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Black tradesman 'told he does not look like an electrician' during 'traumatic' Met Police search

Josh King (Josh King)
Josh King (Josh King)

A black tradesman has claimed that Metropolitan Police officers told him he “does not look like an electrician” during a stop and search on his way home from work.

Josh King, 23, and his colleagues were returning from a job in Guildford when they were stopped by officers in a police van parked by the side of the road as they drove through Clapham on September 13, 2023.

This week, a video went viral on social media showing King and three coworkers, all in company uniforms, being forcibly removed from their vehicle and handcuffed by police during the tense search, leading to the arrest of one person for possessing an electrician’s knife.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) later ruled that no further action should be taken against him.

Mr King, from Peckham, claims he was racially profiled and that his colleague was arrested despite explaining the knife was a work tool.

He added that officers appeared to dismiss his colleague's explanation that the tool had been inadvertently left in his cargo trousers.

The electrician, who owns KK Electrical Contractor Limited, claims that his business lost a client as a result of the incident.

He told the Standard: “We’re going home from work in my person car as I don’t have a van. I’m with the lads and we pass a police vehicle which is parked up in Clapham – I wasn’t speeding, my car’s insured – and I said ‘why have we been stopped? What’s the reason?’”

“And immediately they dragged us out the car and started antagonising us. We were put in handcuffs for about 90 minutes on the side of the road and they told us we don’t look like electricians.

“It makes you think, what does an electrician even look like? What does a plumber look like? What does a doctor look like?

“It was a very concerning thing to say but they didn’t realise the severity of what they said until afterwards.”

He added: “In that whole time period we were in handcuffs, they mistreated us. It was totally unnecessary…it wasn’t professional at all. As somebody who has never previously been stopped by police in my life, it was quite a traumatic experience for me.

Regarding the lost client, he said: “We were working on a project and the police emailed the client. I was offered that job and then lost it. We deal with quite high-end contracts so it’s nothing we takelightly but it did happen.

“Police asked them if we are who we say we are, which was unnecessary.”

Mr King is planning to lodge an official complaint against the Met following the “traumatic” incident.

He says his colleagues have been left shaken by the ordeal and that morale at his business is low.

A Met spokesperson said: “The men were searched after a passenger in the car was seen attempting to hide a lock knife in a door compartment following a traffic stop.

“Possession a lock knife is illegal and officers thought the man’s attempt to hide it was suspicious. He was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon.

“The man claimed he was using the knife for work, however the group’s other tools were found in the boot, rather than the passenger compartment.

“Ultimately the Crown Prosecution Service decided the man should face no further action, but we regularly see the devastation knives cause and officers will do all they can to remove them from the streets of London.”

Last month, Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley criticised the “army of armchair commentators” who, in his view, record and scrutinise the actions of officers.

The Met said the searches were carried out after “a passenger in the car was seen attempting to hide a lock knife in a door compartment following a traffic stop”.

Commander Claire Smart, from the Metropolitan Police, said: "The men were searched after a passenger in the car was seen attempting to hide a lock knife in a door compartment following a traffic stop.

"Possession of a lock knife can be illegal and officers thought the man's attempt to hide it was suspicious. He was arrested on suspicion of being in possession of an offensive weapon.

"Ultimately the Crown Prosecution Service decided the man should face no further action.

"When done right, stop and search is an effective tool and officers take 4,000 dangerous weapons off our streets every year as a result of this tactic.

"We know nonetheless stop and search has a significant impact on our communities which we are keen to better understand.

"There has been no formal complaint about this incident, however I would welcome the opportunity to meet with the man to discuss this further and to hear his concerns."