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Police watchdog finds officers accused of ‘racial profiling’ during Walworth Road stop and search have ‘no case to answer’

The police watchdog has found that four officers accused of racially profiling a driver during a Walworth Road stop and search have ‘no case to answer’.

Three of the officers had been served with gross misconduct notices and one was served with a misconduct notice after the incident, on May 5, 2020, was referred for investigation. 

However, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has now found that there is ‘no evidence’ the officers racially profiled the complainant, and judged that they had ‘reasonable grounds’ to lawfully stop and search him; a decision based on ‘local intelligence including knowledge of drug dealing and gang activity at the location’.

During the incident the car was parked in a quiet street and drove off ‘at speed’ when approached. Body worn video footage also showed the officers had no prior knowledge of the car’s occupant beforehand as it had tinted windows.

However, investigators did find that the officers had made ‘disrespectful comments’ about the complainant ‘while not in his presence’ and had failed to challenge similar comments made by other colleagues. The IOPC also noted they had failed to follow body-worn video guidance and PPE guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a result it recommends they are subject to ‘reflective practice’ and attend a community stop and search event to further their understanding of how the tactic impacts on those subject to it and the wider community. 

The Met says a senior officer from the Central South Basic Command Unit, which covers Southwark and Lambeth, has since met with the car’s driver and also led a stop and search workshop with new recruits.

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