MP says police racial profiling allegations must be taken seriously after athletes’ Maida Vale stop and search incident

Bianca Williams, right, with teammate Asha Philip at the 2018 European Athletics Championships. Pict

Bianca Williams, right, with teammate Asha Philip at the 2018 European Athletics Championships. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA - Credit: PA

“Any allegation of racial profiling must be taken very seriously.”

Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, has said an incident which saw two Black professional athletes stopped and searched by police in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale raises “questions”.

The athletes, Britsh Commonwealth gold medallist Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo Da Costa, who competes for Portugal, believe they were racially profiled.

Footage shows them on Saturday afternoon being pulled from a car where their infant child remained.

Ms Williams told the Times it had been “racial profiling” and “awful to watch”. Footage was shared by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie, who is the athletes’ coach.

Mr Christie accused the police of institutional racism.

Speaking to the Wood&Vale, Ms Buck said: “Stop and search is a deeply emotive subject, and for those on the receiving end of stops – especially on multiple occasions – they are often extremely upsetting and traumatising.

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“Whilst stop and search is one amongst many tools to help us respond to serious crime – and there have been problems with gangs and serious youth violence in the area – concerns over the disproportionate use against black people are long-established.

“Any allegation of racial profiling must be taken very seriously as it is essential that policing has the trust of confidence of all our communities.”

The MP said she welcomed the use of body-worn cameras in stop and search incidents, and added: “I can entirely understand that there are questions about this particular incident which it is reasonable to seek answers to, and have been in touch with the Borough Commander about our concerns.”

Two top cops, Commander Helen Harper and Ch Supt Karen Findlay said they wanted to engage with the couple about their concerns.

Commander Harper, who leads the Central West basic command unit covering Maida Vale said the Met was “content there were no misconduct issues” and had revisited footage to check this.

She added: “That does not mean there isn’t something to be learnt from every interaction we have with the public. We want to listen to, and speak with, those who raise concerns, to understand more about the issues raised and what more we can do to explain police actions.”