Black Met Police inspector ‘racially harassed’ by officers

August 18, 2020

By Rianna Croxford, Community affairs correspondent, BBC News

A Black police inspector is suing the Met Police for racial harassment after being stopped in his car by two white officers. 

Insp Charles Ehikioya recorded the incident in which he said officers stopped him without justification as he drove home from work in south London.

He told the BBC it showed an “abuse of power” and he was speaking out in solidarity with the Black community.

The Met said it found no evidence of misconduct.

The 55-year-old had been driving home after his shift on 23 May when he was followed for two miles by officers and stopped in Croydon, according to his complaint.

As one officer approached, Insp Ehikioya said he noticed he had not switched on his body-worn camera and for that reason he refused to leave his car.

He said he then started to record the incident for protection, at which point the officer turned on his bodycam.

In the recording, shared with BBC News, the officer said Insp Ehikioya was being stopped for driving at speed and it “looked like he had gone through a red light”.

Insp Charles Ehikioya's car
Image captionInsp Charles Ehikioya said he was driving home from work in his red Toyota iQ when he was stopped

The officer said he needed to see Insp Ehikioya’s driving licence and proof he was insured to drive the car, that the vehicle had not been stolen, and to check he was not drunk or had been using his phone.

He claimed Insp Ehikioya’s driving was “unusual”, which he strongly disputed, according to the recording. 

Insp Ehikioya was then accused of being obstructive and the officer said his own behaviour had been perfectly reasonable, it can be heard.

“These were alleged offences that could have ended my whole career,” said Mr Ehikioya, who has worked for the Met Police for more than 22 years.

In his formal complaint, Insp Ehikioya wrote: “The officers did not believe or did not care that I was an officer, because I am black.

“They are both clearly racist police officers pretending to be polite whilst falsely accusing me without any evidence whatsoever of having committed serious criminal and road traffic act offences.”

After Insp Ehikioya informed them he was a serving police officer and later showed them his police badge, both officers left the scene.

‘Racially profiled’

The Met said Insp Ehikioya was not arrested, charged or cautioned for any offence in relation to the stop.

“I believed I was racially profiled and received no apology,” Insp Ehikioya added. 

“I have kids and a grandson, I would not want them treated like this.”

Asked why he had chosen to take legal action against the Met, Insp Ehikioya said he was “not prepared to sit quietly and be silenced”.

“In my view it’s not the whole organisation that’s like that, it’s only a few individuals that are causing this issue.

“I have no choice but to react in the way I’m reacting to bring it to the attention… Actions speak louder than words,” he said.

The Met has come under increasing scrutiny since the wave of Black Lives Matter protests in the UK after the death of African-American George Floyd.

Last week, the Labour MP Dawn Butler called for a “system change” after she and a black male friend were stopped and pulled over in east London by two police cars.

In July, the British sprinter Bianca Williams received an apology from the Met Police after she and her partner were pulled over in their car for a stop-and-search in west London.

Lawrence Davies, of Equal Justice Solicitors who is representing Insp Ehikioya, said the incident showed the “extent of the current racism in the Metropolitan Police”.

“The conduct of a few embarrasses the vast majority of officers who are not racist but who, as a consequence of that conduct, have to work with very distrusting BAME communities,” he said.

The Met confirmed it had received an internal complaint from a driver who alleged they were stopped as a result of racial profiling and said an investigation was undertaken by the Professional Standards Unit.

In a statement, the Met said the vehicle was followed by officers through suspicion of excessive speed at a traffic signal and onward.

No action was taken against the man stopped and, after reviewing body-worn footage, no evidence of misconduct was found, it said.

The statement added: “Any allegation, whether external or internal, made concerning the conduct of our staff is taken extremely seriously.

“Where the conduct of staff is proven to have fallen below the standards of behaviour expected, we will take robust action to ensure that staff are appropriately disciplined and that lessons are learnt from each case.”

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