Police officer cleared of misconduct for stopping driver because he was Black

Video showing conversation between black man and police officer in Ely went viral during Black Lives Matter protests.

A video showing the conversation between a black man and a police officer in Ely went viral during last year's worldwide Black Lives Matter protests. The video was filmed by the motorist from inside his car (as shown). The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has now concluded an independent investigation into the complaint of racial profiling. - Credit: Archant

An independent police investigation concluded that a police officer who stopped a man in Ely six years ago – allegedly because he was black- has no case to answer for misconduct.  

Cambridgeshire Police agreed with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that one of the officers involved should receive further diversity training.  

A video of the incident appeared to show a police officer telling the complainant that he had stopped him due to him being black. 

"The reason I stopped you is (...) you’re a Black male, I’m not going to lie to you," was heard on the video.  

The IOPC says they began their investigation started after a complaint of racial profiling was made against the police officer who stopped and questioned the man in his car in Kings Avenue, Ely on March 7, 2015.  

The force referred the matter to the IOPC in June 2020 after reviewing a video of the incident that was shared on social media and our investigation concluded in December 2020.  

IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “This incident rightly raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from the Black community. 

Most Read

“To ensure the police are accountable for their actions, it was important to establish all of the circumstances and facts surrounding this incident.  

“We examined the stop and found that there was room for improvement in some of the interactions with the man, who was justified in querying why he was told that he was stopped on the grounds of his race.” 

Mr Beesley said: “We are currently working on national learning recommendations in relation to stop and search.  

“As part of this, we are looking at how traffic stops are recorded and how the police can avoid using intelligence in a way that is discriminatory. 

“Our work on this has been informed by the findings of this investigation and will be published in due course.  

“During our investigation, we interviewed the complainant and both officers involved.  

“We also received statements from other police officers regarding local intelligence, reviewed stop and search records and an intelligence report completed at the time. 

The IOPC report says: “Our investigation found that whilst the officers involved did have some local intelligence on which the decision to stop the complainant was based, this intelligence was seven months old  

“The description of the people of concern was no more specific than ‘Black men’.  

“Other factors, such as the demographics of the area and the fact it was known for drug dealing, were not specific to the man being stopped. The complainant was not searched or arrested.” 

The inquiry concluded that the evidence indicated that the complainant had been stopped unfairly due to insufficiently current or specific intelligence being relied on by the officer. 

But it was accepted “he had acted in good faith for a legitimate policing purpose”.  

The inquiry found that “he had apologised for the upset caused to the man and acknowledged that he could have provided a clearer explanation at the time”.     

The IOPC says: “We recommended that the officer who stopped the man should reflect on this incident and the strength of the intelligence which justified the stop.  

“We also recommended that the officer must consider how his actions could disproportionately impact Black men and why the stop could be viewed as discriminatory.” 

It also says the officer should consider the impact this incident had on the man involved and the effect it could have on confidence in policing.  

“The force agreed with this and a further recommendation which has led to the officer receiving additional training in equality, diversity and inclusion,” says the IOPC. 

“We found that a second officer involved in the stop had no case to answer for a failure to challenge and report improper behaviour by his colleague. 

“The complainant did not believe he was present during the conversation.” 

Anyone who is unhappy about something that happened to them that involves the police can make a complaint to contact the police force involved.  

Police force websites include information about how to complain. People can also complain in writing, by telephoning 101 or visiting any police station.