09 August 2020

Labour MP Dawn Butler accuses police of racial profiling after being stopped in her car... and films it

Labour MP Dawn Butler has accused police of racially profiling her after she was stopped by officers while in a car.

The former shadow equalities secretary said she was pulled over by Met Police officers in Hackney, east London, on Sunday and had recorded a video of the incident.

This comes as police are under heightened scrutiny for the alleged racial profiling of black people.

The MP for Brent Central, in north-west London, told Sky News in an interview after the incident: “There is an institutional racism in the police, we know that, and it needs to be taken out. It is cancerous and it needs to be cut out of the police force and it’s urgent.

“It is just tiring and exhausting and mentally draining.

“We’re two black people in a car driving through Hackney and they thought they’ll stop them.”

It was reported that Ms Butler and her “black male friend” were pulled over while travelling in a “nice car” and that footage showed officers say they were searching the area because of “gang and knife crime”.

During the video of the stop, Ms Butler tells the officers: “It is really quite irritating. It’s like you cannot drive around and enjoy a Sunday afternoon whilst black because you’re going to be stopped by police.”

One of the officers tells her: “I appreciate everything you say and I do apologise for wasting your time.”

Scotland Yard is yet to respond to a request for comment.

This week Ms Butler was named by Vogue magazine as one of the 25 most influential women shaping 2020 for her support of Black Lives Matter protests.

She described her backing of the anti-racism movement as having led to threats of attack on her office and staff having “drastically escalated”.

After the stop, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “This is so unsurprising. When will the Metropolitan Police give up on racial profiling?”

Last month Great Britain sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were pulled from their car and handcuffed in front of their three-month-old son.

Nothing was found in the search and the Met referred itself to the police watchdog while the force’s commissioner Dame Cressida Dick was forced to apologise for the “distress” caused.

On Saturday, Ms Butler wrote that the commissioner appeared to be “incapable” of tackling institutional racism in the police and called for her resignation.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched an investigation into whether officers in England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minority people.

The latest official statistics for stop and search showed a disparity rate of 4.3 for all black, Asian and minority ethnic people and 9.7 for black people.

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