Johnson: police must show ‘fairness and equality’ after Labour MP Butler stopped
Boris Johnson said the police must act with “fairness and equality” after Labour MP Dawn Butler accused police of racial profiling after a car she was travelling in was pulled over.
The Prime Minister said the Metropolitan Police had acknowledged the intervention was the result of a mistake and said the force had to “continue to do everything that they can” to show they were serving “every part of our community”.
The former shadow equalities secretary, who accused the police of being “institutionally racist”, was the passenger in a BMW driven by a friend, who like her is black, when they were stopped by police in Hackney, east London.
Scotland Yard said the stop was a result of an officer having “incorrectly entered” the car’s registration plate into a computer to wrongly identify it as a vehicle registered to Yorkshire, but did not explain why the search was carried out in the first place.
Mr Johnson, speaking during a visit to a school in east London, said: “The police have made a statement saying that they made a mistake.
“They have spoken to the occupants of the car but it’s obviously very, very important that the Met continue to do everything that they can, as indeed they do, to show that they are serving every part of our country, every part of our community, with fairness and equality.”
Downing Street said Mr Johnson did not share Ms Butler’s view that the Met was “institutionally racist”.
Ms Butler filmed the encounter and told the PA news agency it was “obviously racial profiling” and “we know that the police is institutionally racist”.
Responding to Mr Johnson’s comments she said: “The problem is that currently every part of the community is not being served with fairness and equality.
“The police are policing not on intelligence or reasonable suspicions, they are using bias and they are stereotyping and they are making assumptions.
“That is not helping society and it is also not helping communities that we need to engage with.”
Ms Butler has also been targeted by abuse and “wild conspiracy theories” online, including a suggestion that the driver of the car was white.
She told PA: “Why would I lie about something like that?
“It does throw up the lengths that people will go to in order to avoid accepting that there is racism in society.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “All allegations of racial profiling must be taken extremely seriously by the Metropolitan Police.
“It is imperative that the black community have trust and confidence in our police. The abuse Dawn has received over social media is wrong and must be condemned.”
Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police Federation said it wanted to show the footage filmed by officers of the incident.
“We are aware of video footage that is circulating on social media this evening following the stopping of a car in Hackney,” the federation, which represents rank and file officers, said.
“Our colleagues want to be able to share their body worn video of the incident and as a federation we are calling for this to happen.”
Scotland Yard’s statement said: “Prior to stopping the vehicle, an officer incorrectly entered the registration into a police computer which identified the car as registered to an address in Yorkshire.
“Upon stopping the vehicle and speaking with the driver, it quickly became apparent that the registration had been entered incorrectly and was registered to the driver in London.
“Once the mistake was realised the officer sought to explain this to the occupants, they were then allowed on their way.”
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