Bianca Williams: Athlete welcomes review of Maida Vale stop and search

Bianca Williams during the Team GB kitting out session at the NEC, Birmingham (pic: John Walton/PA W

Bianca Williams during the Team GB kitting out session at the NEC, Birmingham (pic: John Walton/PA Wire) - Credit: PA WIRE

Top sprinter Bianca Williams has welcomed the outcome of a review into the Metropolitan Police's use of handcuffs after she was subjected to a stop and search in Maida Vale last year.

The athlete accused the force of "racially profiling" her and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, when they were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son in July 2020.

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick apologised to Williams and has also launched a review into the incident led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist.

Scotland Yard said on Friday that the force will improve its "training, policy and processes" following the review, which makes 10 recommendations.

Williams welcomed the announcement, but said further "effective" racial bias training is also needed.

The sprinter said in a statement: "The handcuffs were painful and it was incredibly humiliating to be separated from my baby, in handcuffs outside my home with neighbours walking past.

"While I welcome better training in the Met on the use of handcuffs, the trauma of the incident did not start or end with the handcuffing. It was racial stereotyping and prejudice."

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She said she wanted the police to undertake better training on racial bias and use of force.

Scotland Yard said it will develop a "specific policy on handcuffing pre-arrest" that will set out "clear guidance for officers, including the requirement to justify any initial application of handcuffs as well as their continued use during an interaction".

Other recommendations include "additional legal training, extended officer safety and improved personal safety training for police officers, de-escalation tactics, and more community input to understand the respective experiences of each during encounters".

The review included consultations with young black men, aged between 16 and 25, as well as frontline officers.

It found that searches of the same people, where nothing is found, are "extremely corrosive to the person's and wider communities' trust and confidence in policing".

"The public are concerned that the use of handcuffs can be degrading and, whilst accepting there is a place for it, handcuffs should not be the first resort, and more effort should be made in communication and explanation that might make the use of handcuffs unnecessary," it said.

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