Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has apologised to athlete Bianca Williams for the “distress” caused by a stop and search.
Over the weekend, a now viral video emerged of the Team GB sprinter and her partner Ricardo dos Santos being pulled from their car by police on a street in Maida Vale, London.
Williams accused officers of racially profiling her and dos Santos, a Portuguese 400-metre runner, when they were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son who was on board in the vehicle.
Despite two reviews by the force’s directorate of professional standards finding no misconduct by its officers, the Met has voluntarily referred itself to the police watchdog.
Dame Cressida told MPs on Tuesday evening that two officers had spoken to Williams and Ricardo dos Santos to express remorse for the “distress” caused by the incident.
The commissioner has echoed the apology, saying: “We apologised yesterday to Ms Williams and I apologise again for the distress this stop clearly caused her.”
“Yesterday two of my officers spoke on our behalf to Ms Williams, and I think all of us watching could empathise with somebody who is stopped in a vehicle, who has a young child in the back, who does not probably know what exactly is going on, and is subsequently found, together with her partner, not to be carrying anything illicit.”
Dame Cressida said she has asked a senior officer to review the Met’s handcuffing practices to make sure it hasn’t become a “default” and has also set up an “oversight group” looking at the use of force.
“Every time we see a video that is of concern we review them, we see if there are any lessons learned. My senior officer has said… I’m sorry to Ms Williams for the distress, it has clearly caused her, and I say that, too. So, if there are lessons to be learned from it, we will learn them, and I’m looking at handcuffing as a specific issue.”
Nothing was found and no arrests were made during the search, which the Met said was undertaken by officers patrolling the area in response to a rise in violence involving weapons.
The force also said that the vehicle was seen driving suspiciously on the wrong side of the road, and that when asked to stop, the driver sped off. Ms Williams, who has said she is taking legal action against the Met, dismissed this story.