LONDON: Amidst a controversy of stoppingLabour MP Dawn Butler by the police, Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Sir Steve House has defended the officers’ conduct after reviewing the incident, footage of which – filmed by Ms Butler – has spread widely on social media.
MP Dawn Butler who is black was stopped on Sunday. She accused police of racial profiling after the BMW in which she was travelling was pulled over in Hackney, east London. The car was driven by a friend, who is also black.
Sir Steve 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.
“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.
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.
Labour MP Dawn Butler has accused police of racially profiling her after she was stopped by officers while in a car. The former shadow equalities secretary said she was pulled over by Metropolitan Police officers in Hackney, east London, on Sunday and had recorded a video of the incident.
The incident comes as police are under heightened scrutiny for the alleged racial profiling of black people. The MP for Brent Central, in north-west London, told Sky News in an interview after the incident: “There is an institutional racism in the police, we know that, and it needs to be taken out. It is cancerous and it needs to be cut out of the police force and it’s urgent.
“It is just tiring and exhausting and mentally draining.
“We’re two black people in a car driving through Hackney and they thought they’ll stop them.”
The broadcaster reported that Ms Butler and her “black male friend” were pulled over while travelling in a “nice car” and that footage showed officers say they were searching the area because of “gang and knife crime”.
During the video of the stop, Ms Butler tells the officers: “It is really quite irritating. It’s like you cannot drive around and enjoy a Sunday afternoon whilst black because you’re going to be stopped by police.”
One of the officers tells her: “I appreciate everything you say and I do apologise for wasting your time.”
This week Ms Butler was named by Vogue magazine as one of the 25 most influential women shaping 2020 for her support of Black Lives Matter protests. She described her backing of the anti-racism movement as having led to threats of attack on her office and staff having “drastically escalated”.
The latest official statistics for stop and search showed a disparity rate of 4.3 for all black, Asian and minority ethnic people and 9.7 for black people.