Nottingham

Singer claims police racially profiled her

Harleigh Blu Image copyright Harleigh Blu
Image caption Harleigh Blu, from Nottingham, said she was questioned for 45 minutes, breathalysed and accused of hiding cannabis in her car

A singer who claims she was racially profiled after being pulled over by officers has complained to police.

Harleigh Blu, from Nottingham, who is mixed race, was stopped in Grantham at about 03:00 GMT on 13 November.

Ms Blu said she was questioned for 45 minutes, breathalysed, accused of hiding cannabis and her car in which her mum was a passenger was searched.

Lincolnshire Police said "it would be wrong for us to comment on individual cases".

The force also denied that an individual would be stopped because of the colour of their skin.

Image copyright PA
Image caption When someone is searched, they should be given a slip outlining why it happened or told how they can obtain those records

Ms Blu said she was driving to the airport with her 50-year-old mother when she was stopped in London Road and questioned by an officer.

She claims he then searched her vehicle, along with her mother's handbag, after he said it "stank of weed".

The singer said nothing was found and she was not given a record of the incident as is required when someone is searched.

Stop and search

Katrina Ffrench, chief executive of StopWatch which works to inform the public about the use of stop and search, said when someone is searched they should be given a slip explaining why they were stopped and on what grounds, or pointed to where they can find this information online.

She added that when police stop a vehicle they do not need to record it, but when a search takes place it should be recorded and police should use their body cameras.

"Once you have searched someone, you need to be accountable," she said.

Amal Ali, from Release, a charity which specialises in drugs law, said police officers may use stop and search powers if they have reasonable grounds to suspect an individual is carrying items such as drugs.

However, the College of Policing has produced guidance on the smell of cannabis stating that searches are "more likely to be effective and legitimate when their grounds are based on multiple objective factors" rather than the smell alone.

Therefore, police officers should establish their grounds to search someone on an array of factors, not simply the smell of cannabis, Ms Ali said.

When Ms Blu contacted the force to complain, she claims there was also no record of the incident.

She said: "I believe I was racially profiled. I fit a stereotype they want to project on to me and I think it's completely out of order.

"I've not got a problem with stop and search. I've got a problem with why [I was stopped] and [why I was] being interrogated."

Lincolnshire Police said it could not comment on the case as a complaint had been made and added "it would be wrong for us to comment on individual cases".

When Supt Kieron English, who leads on stop and search for the force, was asked if someone could be stopped due to the colour of the skin, he replied "absolutely not".

He said officers have a strict code of conduct.

"We have to tell the individual by law why we're stopping [them], what we're looking for and what grounds we have.

"Let's not forget that stop and search is a powerful tool for protecting the public," he added.

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