Bianca Williams, photo by Getty / British Athletics
British 4 x 100m, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
Bianca Williams to Darryl Neita, GB 4x100m, photo by Getty Images / British Athletics
This is our update on Bianca Williams. It is sad to note that UK is having same issues as we have in US.
Bianca Williams – developments
On 14 July 2020 we reported how Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo do Santos – both international athletes – were stopped by police, pulled out of their car, handcuffed and accused of having drugs before being released without charge.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct has announced that after their preliminary enquiries five police officers are under disciplinary investigation. We understand that the investigation covers claims that officers breached police standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force, duties and responsibilities, authority, respect and courtesy and will also examine whether the couple were treated less favourably because of their race. While the five officers were under investigation, the IOPC stressed, this did not mean disciplinary charges would follow.
“Potential breaches, which will all be thoroughly investigated, include: the manner of some of the officers’ initial approach to Mr Dos Santos; handcuffing Mr Dos Santos initially and keeping him in handcuffs after he had been searched; and his continued detention and whether there were grounds to do so.”
In regard to Williams, the police watchdog said: “The potential breaches, which will all be thoroughly investigated, include taking hold of her without first having sought her cooperation with the search; handcuffing her initially and continuing to handcuff her after she had been searched; her continued detention and whether there were grounds to do so.”
The IOPC regional director, Sal Naseem, said: “Having analysed a range of evidence including police body-worn [cameras], dashcam video and witness statements, we now have a fuller picture of the officers’ interactions with the couple and their child.
“As a result, we have taken the decision that this meets the threshold for a misconduct investigation. The allegations will now be investigated thoroughly and independently.
“It is important to note that a misconduct investigation does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow. Decisions on any further action will only be made once our investigation is complete.”
The head of the Metropolitan Police, Commissioner, Cressida Dick, said at the time of the incident that the police had apologized for “the distress it has clearly caused her”. But not for their actions!
Bianca Williams and Ricardo Santos issued this response to the IOPC investigation on 9 October 2020.
On 4th July 2020 Bianca Williams, her partner Ricardo dos Santos and their 3 month old baby were stopped in their car by officers of the Metropolitan Police. It was a traumatic encounter and a recording of the incident went viral on social media.
Bianca Williams, photo by Martin Bateman
Yesterday the Independent Office for Police Conduct advised Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos via their lawyers that they were about to put out a press release saying that five officers would face an investigation into breaches of professional standards relating to issues of “respect and courtesy”.
The Metropolitan Police put out a press release in immediate response to the IOPC saying that: “… if proven, the failings would only amount to minor breaches of the standards of professional behaviour or performance [and] would not be at the level of misconduct and so suitable for reflective practice”.
Mr Dos Santos said: “This investigation has been derailed. After three months we are finally told by the IOPC that the officers are being investigated for lack of courtesy. Polite racism is still racism. The IOPC have let the Met off the hook, no wonder that the Met can scoff in their press release that nothing is going to happen.
The officer who dragged me out of the car with a raised baton and handcuffed me, who detained me under s.23 Misuse of Drugs Act and recorded falsely on my stop and search form that I smelt of cannabis is being investigated for politeness. How is racism ever going to be tackled in police forces if the police watchdog classify it as a “respect and courtesy” issue rather than an “honesty and integrity” issue. Neither the police or the IOPC seem to take discrimination issues seriously”.
Bianca Williams said: “For a moment, when BLM protesters were on the streets, and ministers, public authorities and the police were acknowledging that things had to change, we were hopeful. It feels now like that moment has passed and it is business as usual. It was really traumatic for my family being dragged out of the car, handcuffed and separated from our baby. We had hoped that our complaints would have been taken seriously by the police and the IOPC, but now we are having to make a decision about whether we should continue to participate in such a clearly flawed process”.
Jules Carey of Bindmans, the family’s solicitor said:
“I understand my clients’ frustration with the IOPC. When the police watchdog characterises allegations of dishonesty and discrimination as a potential breach of courtesy, then what faith can they have that an impartial and robust investigation will take place. The IOPC notified us by email on 11th September 2020 that the Lead Investigator at the IOPC stepped down from this investigation because she did not agree with how the Regional Director was formally classifying the seriousness of the case. My client’s concerns about whether the IOPC is fit for purpose are clearly also shared by staff in the IOPC. My clients will be reflecting on whether to invest any further time or effort into this investigation”.
(Some information on this article was taken from The Guardian, 8 October 2020)
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