THE Met Police has been accused of racial profiling as public outrage grew over a video that showed a policewoman handcuffing a black off-duty ambulance in Lewisham.
The now viral video, which was recorded on May 21, showed the officer questioning and detaining the man even as he agreed to a drugs search.
The man can be heard telling the officer that he’s “just chilling” and enjoying some fresh air near a block of flats, adding that he resides in the vicinity.
The officer asks for his ID and whether he had been arrested before.
“At the minute, you’re going to be detained for a drugs search, alright?” she says. “There’s loads of intel that there’s drug dealing in this area, okay?
“You’re here with your friends, there’s a couple of cars, and you haven’t really given me enough reason to believe that you’re here just seeing them – in the Covid-19 situation.”
Though the ambulance driver remains calm throughout, the officer handcuffs him as he tells her: “Don’t grab my arm like that.”
Social media went abuzz with people slamming the police action.
This is how @metpoliceuk treat ambulance drivers, if they are black
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) May 29, 2020
“Worth listening to just how the police officer goes from nothing to arrest,” tweeted lawyer and blogger David Allen Green. “For those without certain privileges, this is sadly not an extraordinary piece of footage.”
A former stop and search adviser at the College of Policing, Nick Glynn said he “could not see reasonable grounds to carry out the search”, adding that the officers were “trying to meet stop-and-search targets”.
“It has to stop,” he tweeted.
A Met Police spokeswoman said officers were acting on “intelligence received regarding drugs activity in the area”, and “a male was detained for the purpose of a search”.
“Nothing was found and the man was not arrested,” she added. “He was provided with details of the officer who conducted the search, and informed of his entitlement to gain a copy of the search record.”
Dwayne Francis — a school worker had similarly been detained last month – was among the first to share the video, which got over a million views.
He accused the police of “racial profiling”.
Narrating his own harrowing experience while waiting in his car outside a post office, Francis said: “I was parked up when they [police] drove past and then returned and demanded that I get off the phone and get out of my car.”
Even after showing his work badge, the officers asked him to step out of the car, and handcuffed him.
“At all times I remained calm and explained why I was being unfairly treated and profiled,” he told The Guardian.
“They attempted to claim that I had droplets of cannabis on the floor of my car, which was completely false.
“At one stage one of them even said to me: ‘Do you know what this area is like?’ I told him not to patronise me and that I had lived in the area for 32 years.
“I also explained to them that I work with young people on a daily basis and educate them about how they should be calm and also be sure of their rights in a situation like this.
“The officers showed a complete lack of regard for me, an adult and a respected figure in the community, but how would a 15 or 16-year-old handle a situation?”
The accusation against the Met comes at a time when reports showed black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in England were 54 per cent more likely to be penalised under lockdown rules than white people.
An analysis by Liberty Investigates and the Guardian had recently revealed that BAME people accounted for 2,218 of the 13,445 fixed-penalty notices under social distancing rules from March 27 to May 11.
Network for Police Monitoring coordinator Kevin Blowe said: “For years there has been extensive evidence that police powers are used to disproportionately and unfairly to target black and Asian communities, so it comes as little surprise that these figures indicate racial profiling has continued and even accelerated under the lockdown.
“This was often far more about sending a tough public order message than about genuine disease prevention and has routinely resulted in the arbitrary use of police powers.”