Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Investigation concludes following racial profiling complaint against Cambridgeshire police

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the questioning of a Black man by Cambridgeshire Constabulary found no case to answer for misconduct although the force agreed one of the officers involved should receive further diversity training.

Our independent investigation started after a complaint of racial profiling was made against a police officer who stopped and questioned the man in his car in Kings Avenue, Ely on 7 March 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.

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 and 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.

While the evidence indicated that the complainant had been stopped unfairly due to insufficiently current or specific intelligence being relied on by the officer, it was accepted he had acted in good faith for a legitimate policing purpose. He had apologised for the upset caused to the man and acknowledged that he could have provided a clearer explanation at the time.    

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, why the stop could be viewed as discriminatory, 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.

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, as the complainant did not believe he was present during the conversation.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley recently said:

“This incident rightly raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from the Black community.

“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.”

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.


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