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We want to listen, Met says after Team GB sprinter’s stop and search concerns

Bianca Williams has said Metropolitan Police officers racially profiled her and her partner on Saturday.

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Great Britain’s Bianca Williams (PA)

Great Britain’s Bianca Williams (PA)

Great Britain’s Bianca Williams (PA)

The Metropolitan Police have asked a Team GB sprinter to contact them to discuss her concerns after she said officers racially profiled her and her partner during a stop and search on Saturday.

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos – a Portuguese 400m sprinter, were stopped in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, west London on Saturday afternoon.

Ms Williams, whose three-month-old son was in the car during the incident, called it an “awful experience” and believes the couple were targeted because they are black and drive a Mercedes.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she is considering legal action against the Metropolitan Police after the incident.

“I feel very hurt by their actions, and to witness my partner being taken away and for me to be taken away from my son, my heart hurts,” she told the programme.

We want to listen to, and speak with, those who raise concerns, to understand more about the issues raised and what more we can do to explain police actions Helen Harper, Metropolitan Police Commander for Central West

Nothing was found following a search of the vehicle, the man and the woman, according to the force – which said officers were patrolling the area in response to an increase in violence involving weapons.

On Monday, Scotland Yard said its Directorate of Professional Standards had revisited body-worn footage and social media videos and found no misconduct issues.

Commander for Central West Helen Harper said while no misconduct issues had been found, “that does not mean there isn’t something to be learnt from every interaction we have with the public”.

The force has now asked Ms Williams and her partner to contact them to discuss the pair’s concerns over the incident.

She continued: “Myself and Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay, who is in charge of the Territorial Support Group, are really keen to speak personally to the occupants of the vehicle to discuss what happened and the concerns they have.

“We’re making efforts today to try to contact them but would also ask them to please get in touch as soon as they can.”

She added: “We want to listen to, and speak with, those who raise concerns, to understand more about the issues raised and what more we can do to explain police actions.

“Where we could have interacted in a better way, we need to consider what we should have done differently and take on that learning for the future.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said he takes allegations of racial profiling “extremely seriously” and that he has raised the case with the force.

Footage of the incident was shared widely on Twitter after being posted by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie, who questioned why the vehicle had been stopped.

The clip appeared to show two people – a man and a woman – being pulled out of a car in a London street.

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Bianca Williams in 2018 (John Walton/PA)

Bianca Williams in 2018 (John Walton/PA)

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Bianca Williams in 2018 (John Walton/PA)

The force said the vehicle was stopped after it was seen driving suspiciously, including on the wrong side of the road, and that the driver had sped off when asked to stop.

But this account was rejected by Ms Williams, who said the car was “never” on the wrong side of the road.

Ms Williams and her partner were also handcuffed during the stop, which Scotland Yard said was due to the officers’ views that the vehicle was attempting to evade police and the way the car was being driven.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer told LBC radio he could see no justification for the use of handcuffs during the incident and said he would “feel uncomfortable” if he were a senior officer watching the footage.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, when asked about the incident and that the UK is a racist nation during a visit to Goole, said: “I don’t think that is true. I think that the UK has made incredible progress just in my lifetime.

“But that doesn’t mean we’ve done enough and we’ve got to keep doing better and we’ve got to keep addressing people’s feelings that they face discrimination and prejudice.”

PA