The misconduct panel, led by an independent and legally qualified chair, did not believe the evidence of PC Jonathan Clapham and PC Sam Franks in stating they could smell cannabis on Mr Dos Santos. The officers were dismissed without notice for a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour for honesty and integrity.
There was no indication that Mr Dos Santos and Ms Williams were treated less favourably because of their race by any of the officers involved, including the two dismissed officers. None of the alleged breaches of the Standards of Professional Behaviour were proven in relation to three other officers – PC Allan Casey, Acting Sergeant Rachel Simpson and PC Michael Bond.
Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gray said: “This hearing took over five weeks to conclude and we welcome the commitment of the panel and the very detailed outcome report published today.
“The public must have the confidence that officers will be honest and act with integrity at all times. This is a core principle and there can be no place in the Met for those who do not uphold these values. Two officers were found to have breached these standards and were dismissed immediately.
“The panel concluded that the actions of all of the officers, including the two dismissed officers, were not influenced by race. The report outlined the circumstances of the stop and the panel also concluded that any use of force was reasonable.
“We are, however, determined to ensure we are community focused in everything we do and we know that the use of police powers can be highly impactive on individuals and communities. We will continue to learn and work with communities to improve how we do things.
“It has taken more than three years for this matter to reach conclusion. This has undoubtedly been very difficult for Ms Williams and Mr Dos Santos and it is clear from their personal accounts, as well as from the panel findings, that they experienced much distress and we apologise for that.
“The time taken for the case to conclude has also been challenging for the officers who were subject to the misconduct proceedings, particularly those who have been found with no breaches of professional standards proven against them.
“Policing is a tough job. Officers will always expect to be held accountable for their actions, and this case highlights the importance of the recently announced Home Office Accountability Review. The public and officers need to know that cases will be investigated in a more timely manner for the benefit of everyone.”
Key details taken from the panel’s findings:
-That PC Franks and PC Clapham were found by the panel not to be credible witnesses and were untruthful when they said they could smell cannabis.
-That PC Casey did not see that the driver of the car was a black male, make any eye contact with the driver before it turned or decide to follow him into Woodfield Road.
-That footage from the police carrier confirmed that Mr Dos Santos had applied the brakes several times during the journey down Woodfield Road and as result the driving may have drawn the attention of the officers.
-That officers had received an operational briefing on the day of the stop which focused on heightened gang tensions and made specific references to a black/dark Mercedes and that this had been taken into account in the officers’ decision making process.
-That there was a delay of around 15 seconds before Mr Dos Santos unlocked the car and that this, along with the fact officers could not see through the tinted windows, increased their risk assessment.
-That officers’ use of handcuffs on Mr Dos Santos was justified as they reasonably believed that by his actions, he may have been attempting to escape or was likely to be violent, taking into account the background leading to the incident. They also removed the handcuffs immediately after the search of the car was complete.
-PC Casey, Sgt Simpson and PC Bond did not breach the Standards of Professional Behaviour and no allegations were proven and there were no misconduct findings. The panel have however suggested that the officers should be referred for reflective practice which is designed to give officers and line managers an opportunity to discuss where things have gone wrong. It isn’t a misconduct finding.
For PC Casey, the panel suggested that reflective practice should focus on his manner of driving as a trained response officer, and that he may wish to reflect on his driving that day with a view to considering whether he might do anything differently.
For PC Bond, the panel suggested that reflective practice should focus on the officer’s communication with police colleagues, and that he may wish to reflect on whether he could do differently in terms of information handling
For Sgt Simpson, the panel suggested that reflective practice should focus on the officer’s communication methods with members of the public and colleagues and that she might wish to reflect on her tone and some of the words used when speaking to Ms Williams.
We will now consider the most appropriate way to progress this with the officers and their line managers.
The full report can be read here.