In the latest case of alleged racial profiling, a senior black police inspector who was stopped in his car by two white officers has complained of racial harassment to the Metropolitan Police.
Inspector Charles Ehikioya complained that on 23 May he was stopped without justification in Croydon as he drove home from work in south London, after being followed for two miles. He had just finished a shift. The Met, however, said it had found not evidence of misconduct.
Ehikioya told the BBC the incident showed an “abuse of power” and he was speaking out in solidarity with the black community.
The officers, having stopped Ehikioya, told him his driving was “unusual” and it had “looked like he had gone through a red light.”
Ehikioya noticed that the officer who initially approached had not switched on his body-worn video and so decided to start recording the incident for his own protection and not leave his car. At this point the officer turned on his camera.
The officer told Ehikioya’s he wanted to see his driving licence and proof he was insured to drive the car, that the vehicle had not been stolen, and to check he was not drunk or had been using his phone. He told Ehikioya that he was being obstructive while his own behaviour had been perfectly reasonable.
After Ehikioya told them he was a serving police officer and later showed them his police badge, both officers left the scene.
“These were alleged offences that could have ended my whole career,” Ehikioya, who has worked for the Met Police for more than 22 years, told the BBC.
In his formal complaint, Ehikioya wrote: “The officers did not believe or did not care that I was an officer, because I am black.
“They are both clearly racist police officers pretending to be polite whilst falsely accusing me without any evidence whatsoever of having committed serious criminal and road traffic act offences.”
The Met said Ehikioya was not arrested, charged or cautioned for any offence in relation to the stop.
“I believed I was racially profiled and received no apology,” Insp Ehikioya said.
“I have kids and a grandson, I would not want them treated like this.”
Among other recent widely publicised cases involving alleged racial profiling Labour MP Dawn Butler and British sprinter Bianca Williams also recently made formal complaints after being stopped in their cars. And, beyond the police force, British Vogue editor Edward Enninful was asked by a security guard to enter his own office via the loading bay.
Ehikioya’s experience showed the “extent of the current racism in the Metropolitan Police”, said Lawrence Davies, of Equal Justice Solicitors who is representing the inspector.
“The conduct of a few embarrasses the vast majority of officers who are not racist but who, as a consequence of that conduct, have to work with very distrusting BAME communities,” he said.
The Met confirmed it had received an internal complaint from a driver who alleged they were stopped as a result of racial profiling and said an investigation was undertaken by the Professional Standards Unit.
In a statement, the Met said the vehicle was followed by officers through suspicion of excessive speed at a traffic signal and onward.
No action was taken against the man stopped and, after reviewing body-worn footage, no evidence of misconduct was found, it said.
The statement added: “Where the conduct of staff is proven to have fallen below the standards of behaviour expected, we will take robust action to ensure that staff are appropriately disciplined and that lessons are learnt from each case.”