Bianca Williams: Met refers British sprinter stop-and-search

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

The Met has referred itself to the policing watchdog over the controversial stop-and-search of a British sprinter in west London.

Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese 400m runner, were stopped in Maida Vale on Saturday.

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

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will investigate.

Footage of the stop and search has been shared widely on social media.

In a statement the Met said the decision to refer to the IOPC had been taken "due to the complaint being recorded and the significant public interest".

"Two reviews of the circumstances by the Met's Directorate of Professional Standards have not identified misconduct for any officer involved," the force added.

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

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

But Ms Williams believes she and her partner were targeted because they are black and were driving a Mercedes.

"They [the officers] said there's a lot of youth violence and stabbings in the area and that the car looked very suspicious," she said on Monday.

"They see a black male driving a nice car, an all-black car, and they assume that he was involved in some sort of gang, drug, violence problem."

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the BBC he was "pleased" that the Met had referred the case as "it's really important that Londoners have trust and confidence in the police and the way the police are policed".

"There are concerns about the how the police behaved so it's right and proper that those concerns are looked into," he said.

Ken Marsh, chairman of the Met Police Federation, said it had been supporting officers involved in the incident and called on the IOPC to "conclude their work in a fair and timely fashion".

He added that "a short clip of an incident widely shared on social media does not always tell the full operational policing story".

The police watchdog is also investigating a video of a white officer from Cambridgeshire Police quizzing a black driver which was shot in Ely in 2015 and was shared on Facebook in June as Black Lives Matter protests took place.

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