Linford Christie and Bianca Williams accuse police of racial profiling after sprinter detained and handcuffed

Ewan Somerville
·4-min read
GB sprinting star Bianca Williams was detained in front of her three-month-old baby: Getty/Twitter
GB sprinting star Bianca Williams was detained in front of her three-month-old baby: Getty/Twitter

A GB sprinter has accused the Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after she was hauled from her car and handcuffed in front of her three-month-old son.

Bianca Williams, 26, a European and Commonwealth gold medallist, and her athlete partner Ricardo dos Santos, 25, appeared to be dragged by officers during the traffic stop on Saturday afternoon.

The British Athletics star said the ordeal left her "incredibly hurt and shaken".

Their coach, Olympic champion Linford Christie, accused the force of “institutionalised racism”.

He tweeted a widely-shared video of the incident, in Maida Hill in west London, which appeared to show the pair, who are black, being aggressively placed in handcuffs as Ms Williams pleads, “he didn’t do anything”. An officer appears to say the car is being searched “for weapons”.

Scotland Yard refuted allegations of racism, saying in a statement the car had “made off at speed from the officers, travelling the wrong side of the road".

But Ms Williams hit back on Sunday night, telling The Times: "It’s always the same thing with Ricardo. They think he’s driving a stolen vehicle, or he’s been smoking cannabis.

"It’s racial profiling. The way they spoke to Ricardo, like he was scum, dirt on their shoe, was shocking. It was awful to watch.”

The couple are considering legal action over the incident, according to reports.

In a furious earlier message on Twitter, shared 6,000 times, Mr Christie called on Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick to “explain to me what justification the Met Police officers had in assaulting the driver, taking a mother away from her baby all without one piece of PPE (personal protective equipment) and then calling the sniffer dog unit to check the car over.”

He continued: “Was it the car that was suspicious or the black family in it which led to such a violent confrontation & finally an accusation of the car smelling of weed but refusing to do a roadside drug test.”

The sportsman claimed it was the second time it had happened in two months.

“I’m sure it won’t be the last but this type of abuse of power & institutionalised racism cannot be justified or normalised any longer,” he said.

A Scotland Yard spokesperson said in a statement: “At around 1.25pm on July 4, 2020, officers from the Territorial Support Group were patrolling in the W9 area in response to an increase in youth violence involving weapons.

“A vehicle with blacked out windows made off at speed from the officers, travelling the wrong side of the road. The officers eventually caught up with the vehicle which was stopped in Lanhill Road, W9. The driver initially refused to get out of the vehicle.

“The occupants, a 25 year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were informed that they were being detained for the purposes of a search under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

“After a search was conducted on the persons/ vehicle, no arrests were made and the occupants were allowed on their way.

“Each stop is dealt with on its own merits at the discretion of the individual officers involved taking into account various aspects including behaviour and compliance.

“Officers have to make these judgement calls regularly on a daily basis, often in difficult circumstances.

“They understand that their actions will be scrutinised as they go about their work and that the public have the right to hold them to account where appropriate.

“In this instance, officers from the Directorate of Professional Standards Unit have reviewed both footage from social media & the body-worn video of the officers on scene, and are satisfied that there is no concern around the conduct of officers.”

It comes at a time of fractured relations between the Met and some members of London's BAME community. There were pockets violence at recent Black Lives Matter protests as overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations spilled over into violence, leaving dozens of officers injured.

Dr Neville Lawrence, father of black teenager Stephen who was murdered 27 years ago, alleged last month that the police remains “institutionally racist” and that blacks are treated as second-class citizens.

Dame Cressida has insisted today’s Met is “an utterly different” force.

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