The findings of the panel regarding the stop and search incident involving athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos have been made public. The panel, led by an independent and legally qualified chair, found that PC Jonathan Clapham and PC Sam Franks were not credible witnesses and were dismissed without notice for breaching the Standards of Professional Behaviour for honesty and integrity. The officers had claimed to smell cannabis on Mr Dos Santos, a claim that was not believed by the panel.
However, the panel did not find any indication that Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams were treated differently because of their race by any of the officers involved, including the dismissed officers. Additionally, no breaches of professional standards were proven against three other officers – PC Allan Casey, Acting Sergeant Rachel Simpson, and PC Michael Bond.
Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray expressed appreciation for the panel’s commitment and the detailed outcome report. Gray emphasized the importance of officers being honest and acting with integrity at all times, stating that there is no place in the Metropolitan Police for those who do not uphold these values. The panel concluded that the actions of all the officers, including the dismissed ones, were not influenced by race, and any use of force was deemed reasonable.
Gray acknowledged the impact of police powers on individuals and communities and reiterated the commitment to learning from this incident and working with communities to improve policing practices. She also apologized to Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos for the distress they experienced throughout the process, which took over three years to reach a conclusion.
The Assistant Commissioner acknowledged the challenges faced by officers involved in the misconduct proceedings, especially those who were found to have no breaches of professional standards proven against them. Gray emphasized the need for accountability and highlighted the recently announced Home Office Accountability Review, which aims to ensure more timely investigations for the benefit of both the public and officers.
Key details from the panel’s findings include:
1. PC Franks and PC Clapham were found to be untruthful in claiming they could smell cannabis.
2. PC Casey did not see the driver of the car or make eye contact before deciding to follow him.
3. Mr Dos Santos’s driving, including applying the brakes several times, drew the attention of the officers.
4. Officers received an operational briefing on heightened gang tensions, which included references to a black/dark Mercedes.
5. A delay in Mr Dos Santos unlocking the car door and the tinted windows increased officers’ risk assessment.
6. The use of handcuffs on Mr Dos Santos was justified due to officers’ belief that he may attempt to escape or be violent, but the handcuffs were removed after the search.
7. PC Casey, Sgt Simpson, and PC Bond did not breach professional standards, but the panel suggested they engage in reflective practice to discuss areas for improvement.
PC Casey’s reflective practice should focus on his driving as a trained response officer, considering whether he could do anything differently. PC Bond’s reflection should center around his communication with police colleagues and information handling. Sgt Simpson’s reflective practice should concentrate on her communication methods with the public and colleagues, particularly reflecting on her tone and choice of words when interacting with Ms Williams.
The publication of the panel’s findings marks an important step in addressing the incident and ensuring accountability within the Metropolitan Police.