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Met Police's handling of complaints branded ‘opaque’ and ‘not fit for purpose’

Despite almost 5,000 complaints, only six officers have been disciplined for misusing of stop and search powers, new research finds

ONLY six officers in Britain’s biggest police force have been disciplined for misuse of stop and search powers since 2014 despite almost 5,000 complaints, new research reveals. 

In the last seven-year period, 4,917 complaints have been filed against London’s Metropolitan Police officers over the tactic, with the number more than doubling from 785 in 2019 to 1,744 last year. 

The figures, obtained through freedom of information requests and published today, show that the drastic increase has coincided with a significant rise in the number of stop and searches carried out, from 268,771 to 319,713 in the same period. 

Just 17 officers have faced disciplinary proceedings for the tactic, which, critics say, predominantly targets black youths, when investigated by the Met’s directorate of professional standards. 

Following these allegations, just six were proven, with four officers receiving management advice, one a written warning and another a final written warning.

The figures have sparked fresh concerns over the police’s handling of complaints, with campaigners saying the process is “opaque” and “not fit for purpose.”

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “Obviously there is a role for stop and search, but the Met Police management need to take enforcing the rules around it much more seriously.

“This situation can only undermine community confidence in the Met Police at a very difficult time.”

Campaign group StopWatch said the figures prove “once again that the police complaints system is not fit for purpose.”

“Worse still, the sheer volume of complaints tell us that too many police officers in London who conduct stop and searches cannot be trusted to do so properly,” the group said. 

In July Met Commissioner Cressida Dick apologised and launched a review into the use of handcuffing pre-arrest after black athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos were stopped in their car and arrested in front of their infant child. 

Met leader for stop and search Commander Jane Connors said she welcomed scrutiny over the tactic. 

“We would expect to see a rise in complaints considering the increase of stop and search encounters in 2020,” she said. 

“However we are not complacent and are committed to ensuring that every encounter is conducted professionally with respect and courtesy.”

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