Ipswich police officers accuse black woman of 'jumping on bandwagon'

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Media caption,

Suffolk Police officers ask for the black couple's details "because we can"

An exchange in which a police officer accused a black woman of "jumping on the bandwagon" was "clumsy", a deputy chief constable said.

Two officers had asked a black couple outside their Ipswich home for their details, saying "because we can".

When the woman complained, an officer said: "You've just jumped on the bandwagon in the current climate."

Deputy Chief Constable of Suffolk Police, Rachel Kearton, said it would be investigated internally.

The exchange, filmed on the woman's mobile phone, has been viewed on Twitter more than 1.5m times after it was shared by the couple's daughter, Maja Antoine.

In the video, the officers appear to want to check a driving licence because the couple had "paid attention" to them while they worked on an operation on the same street on Wednesday.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

She said in her tweet: "My parents were stopped and questioned in their own driveway for 'driving a motor vehicle on the road', and 'because they can'.

"It's suspicious to walk from your car to your house, while black. The UK is not innocent."

'Shouldn't have happened'

Speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, Miss Antoine said her first thought when her mother sent her the footage was "people need to see that".

"Everything we are fighting for is happening where we stand, to the point that it's my parents on their doorstep," she added.

Media caption,

Daughter 'scared' by police spat with black couple

"After everything calmed down my main feeling was anger because this shouldn't have been happening."

Asked about an official apology due to be given to her parents on Friday, she replied: "Until we see some sort of change in bias training I don't think I'm really impressed, but the apology was welcomed."

Image caption,
Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton told BBC Look East she could see the incident was upsetting

Franstine Jones, the former president of the National Black Police Association, said it was "just not professional" to ask someone for their details "because we can".

"It leaves me wondering about the mindset of our officers in Suffolk going out on the street doing their policing," she said.

"If they think every interaction with a black person - if they are not happy about the way they are being spoken to, or the way they are being treated, or asking for an explanation - that officer is going to think 'oh here we go, they are just jumping on the bandwagon'.

"It's really disappointing. It makes me fearful."

DCC Kearton said body-worn camera footage and the online video were being examined and the matter investigated by the force's professional standards team.

"It is an opportunity for us to have a long, hard look at how we conduct ourselves," she explained.

"It isn't always perfect, we do have mistakes and weaknesses, however, we do care for our communities and we do hold very close to our hearts our sense of professionalism and integrity and to do the right thing and respect all of our members of our communities to keep them safe.

"That is what was at the heart of what the police officers were trying to do, however it appears to have been carried out in a clumsy fashion which will be dealt with by the constabulary and we will do better in the future."

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