Bianca Williams: Met chief apologises to sprinter after stop and search

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has apologised to Bianca Williams after the Great Britain sprinter and her partner were handcuffed during a stop and search.

Dame Cressida told MPs that two officers had spoken to Williams and Ricardo dos Santos on Tuesday evening to say sorry for the “distress” caused by the incident.

The commissioner also echoed that apology.

Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos
Bianca Williams, with her partner Ricardo dos Santos, says she was ‘heartbroken’ by the incident

Williams claimed officers racially profiled her during the traffic stop on Saturday in Maida Vale, west London, which saw the pair being separated from their three-month-old son.

She told Sky News the incident had left her “really scared” and made her feel “like we were the scum of their shoe”.

The Met subsequently reviewed footage of the incident, taken from multiple cameras, but said no misconduct had taken place.

But after “significant public interest” in the matter, the force referred itself to the police watchdog.

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Speaking to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday, Dame Cressida said: “My senior officer did say ‘I’m sorry’, and I say that too, and if there are lessons to be learnt from it we will learn them.

“I am looking at handcuffing as a specific issue. I think the Met has come an enormous way, I say to other people, if you want to call us institutionally racist then that’s a matter for you. It’s not a label I find helpful.”

Pic: @ChristieLinford

Stop and search moment for British sprinter

It is not known whether the officers who visited the couple apologised in person or if the commissioner contacted Williams before her appearance at the committee.

Assistant commissioner Helen Ball, who also spoke during the hearing, said the video Williams filmed of the incident has caused the Met “concern”.

She added she recognised the “anxiety” some communities might feel when watching the video of the stop and search.

Once it had been brought to the Met’s attention, footage from body-worn cameras and from the police car’s dash cam were also assessed by the force.

Great Britain's Asha Philip (left), Imani Lansiquot, Bianca Williams (second right), and Dina Asher-Smith (right) celebrate winning the gold medal in the women's 4x100m relay final during day six of the 2018 European Athletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium, Berlin
Bianca Williams (second from right) with fellow British sprinters at the 2018 European Athletics Championships

Ms Ball said: “In respect of that particular incident, we’ve reviewed what happened before the stop, and the reasons why the vehicle was stopped, and I think the complaints work that the IOPC will do will show good grounds for the officers to stop that vehicle.

“They didn’t know who was in that vehicle at the time that they stopped it. After that, they dealt with what was in front of them.”

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Scotland Yard previously said nothing was found during the search and no arrests were made, but officers had stopped the vehicle after it was seen being driven suspiciously and on the wrong side of the road.

Williams has denied this, saying the car was “never” on the wrong side of the road.

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