The policing watchdog is set to look into concerns over the arrest of a black woman after she was held on the ground by multiple officers outside a shop in Hertfordshire following an altercation at a jewellery shop.
Police were sent to the scene on Saturday following reports of a woman being verbally abusive and physically aggressive at the jewellers on Shenley Road, with local media reporting she had allegedly been antisemitic towards a member of staff and had damaged a plastic protective screen.
However the response of the police, which saw two officers pin the woman to the ground as she was handcuffed, was seen by some bystanders as an example of an alleged culture of heavy-handed responses by authorities towards black people.
The incident comes in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, sparking an international movement challenging racism in society and the treatment of black people by the criminal justice system.
In footage of the Hertfordshire arrest the 32-year-old, who was visibly distressed while handcuffed on the pavement, could be heard saying “all I wanted was together my refund, that’s all I wanted”.
At other points she could be heard telling officers “don’t step on me”, “you’re going to kill me” and “I want my mother”.
Policing watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has since said it will be looking into the matter.
“We are aware of this incident and will be making further enquiries with the police force involved on Monday”, the body said in a statement posted to Twitter.
However in a statement the force defended its response to the incident.
A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Constabulary said: “Police were called at 10.25am today (Saturday 8 August) to reports of a woman being physically aggressive and verbally abusive in a shop in Shenley Road, Borehamwood.
“Officers attended the scene and arrested a 32 year old woman from Borehamwood on suspicion of criminal damage, religiously aggravated assault, resisting arrest and a Section 5 public order offence. She remains in police custody at this time.
“Our officers are fully trained to safely deal with individuals who resist arrest and they follow national guidance to achieve this. Where there are any concerns about our policing response, we always seek to review it and take appropriate action.”