London police face action over sprinter stop and search

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Britain's Bianca Williams was stopped by police in London's Maida Vale area in July 2020 (AFP/Adrian DENNIS) (Adrian DENNIS)
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Five police officers could face disciplinary action in relation to the stop and search of British sprinter Bianca Williams, their force said on Wednesday.

Williams, a European and Commonwealth 100m gold medallist, accused London's Metropolitan Police of racial profiling after she was stopped in July 2020.

The force later apologised after she disclosed that she and her partner, the Portuguese 400m runner Ricardo dos Santos, had been repeatedly stopped.

The organisation that deals with police complaints in England and Wales has been reviewing whether forces discriminate against ethnic minorities.

The review includes police stop and search powers, with longstanding evidence that they are used disproportionately.

The Metropolitan Police said on Wednesday that five officers would face a gross misconduct hearing as a result of the search in London's Maida Vale area.

The athletes' young child was in the car at the time.

The officers will answer claims that they failed to adhere to professional standards, including on use of force, and equality and diversity, the force said.

Williams, 28, and dos Santos, 27, were handcuffed and their car was searched but nothing was found. They were not arrested and were allowed on their way.

She told BBC radio after the incident: "They (the police) see a black male driving a nice car, an all-black car, and they assume that he was involved in some sort of gang, drug, violence problem."

The Met said at the time that they were satisfied, after reviewing footage from social media and bodycam footage, that the officers acted appropriately.

They said they stopped the car after assessing that it was being driven in a suspicious manner. The area was being patrolled because of a surge in violence.

But on Wednesday, deputy assistant commissioner Bas Javid said the force had accepted the recommendations of a review by the police standards watchdog.

An independent hearing would be held for the officers to respond to the allegations.

"I am sorry for the distress that this incident clearly caused Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos," he added.

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