Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Top Met cop says officers who stopped car carrying MP Dawn Butler didn’t know occupants were black

The deputy commissioner of the Met Police says the officers who stopped MP Dawn Butler in a car did not know she was black because the windows were tinted.

Sir Steve House today threw his support behind the police officers after the Labour MP accused them of racial profiling when the BMW in which she was travelling in with her black friend was pulled over in Hackney, east London on Sunday.  

Sir Steve defended the constables' conduct after reviewing the incident, footage of which -  filmed by Ms Butler – has spread widely on social media.

He said the officers had acted properly, and it was 'unfair' that police should have their actions hastily posted and scrutinised on social media, rather than being reviewed through proper channels.

He added officers, ‘didn't know who the occupants of the car were, including their ethnicity because the car windows were tinted.'    

'The officers in this case came into work on Sunday to keep Londoners safe,' he said in a statement.


'Officers expect to be scrutinised and there are existing, appropriate and proportionate processes for making complaints and for facts to be established, and on the occasions where there is fault – unlike this case – for consequences to follow.

'The increasingly routine trial by social media is unfair and damaging to individual officers and has the potential to undermine the role our communities need us to do to protect them and keep them safe from violence.'

Sir Steve said he had discussed with Ms Butler her concerns over why the stop was made, adding she had no complaint about how it was conducted.

He said the officers were from the Violent Crime Task Force and were in the area 'as part of our proactive work to protect communities from violence'.
'Criminals often use vehicles to travel in and to commit crime, therefore officers will often check cars to see if there is anything that requires them to stop it and do further checks,' Sir Steve said.

'The officers ran a number plate check on the vehicle. 

'At this stage, the officers still didn't know who the occupants of the car were, including their ethnicity because the car windows were tinted.'

A mistake was made, however, when an officer incorrectly entered the car's registration into his computer, Sir Steve said, adding that was when the Police National Computer returned details of a car from another region of the UK.

As a result, he said, the officers had decided to conduct further checks by stopping the vehicle and engaging with its occupants.

'I expect officers to have professional curiosity and I would have done the same,' he said.


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