Bianca Williams stop-and-search: Met PCs face probe

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Media caption,

Footage of the stop was shared widely on Twitter after being posted by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie, who questioned why the vehicle had been targeted

Five police officers are facing an investigation over the stop and search of British athlete Bianca Williams and her partner in west London.

Ms Williams and Ricardo dos Santos, whose baby son was in the car, believe they were racially profiled when they were stopped in Maida Vale, on 4 July.

The Met referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) after footage was widely shared.

Sal Naseem said a "threshold for a misconduct investigation" had been met.

The IOPC's regional director added: "Decisions on any further action will only be made once our investigation is complete."

The Met had said officers were patrolling the area in which Ms Williams was stopped because of an increase in youth violence.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ms Williams, 26, accused the Met of racially profiling her partner, who was driving a black Mercedes.

Three days after the incident, the Met apologised to Ms Williams.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Bianca Williams won European and Commonwealth gold in the 4x100m relay in 2018

The force also referred itself to the IOPC, despite two reviews by the force's directorate of professional standards concluding there had been no misconduct.

The five officers will now be investigated for potential breaches of police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force; duties and responsibilities; and authority, respect and courtesy, the IOPC said in a statement.

The IOPC said its independent investigation would focus on seven points including why Mr Dos Santos's car was followed and stopped and whether the force used against Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams was lawful, necessary, reasonable and proportionate.

It is also being questioned why a Merlin report, a Met-run database that stores information on children who have become known to the police for any reason, was created for Ms Williams's son.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams say police handcuffed them while their son was in the car

Investigators will also look at whether Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos "were treated less favourably because of their race" as well as the accuracy of the accounts provided by the officers and the "appropriateness of the communications" issued by the Met.

The IOPC statement said it would look at whether there were grounds for Mr Dos Santos to be kept in handcuffs after he had been searched.

It added: "In relation to Ms Williams the potential breaches, which will all be thoroughly investigated, include taking hold of her without first having sought her co-operation with the search; handcuffing her initially and continuing to handcuff her after she had been searched; her continued detention and whether there were grounds to do so."

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