Home SPORT Athletics Chrissie Hynde condemns 'aggressive' police stop of black athletes in London

Chrissie Hynde condemns ‘aggressive’ police stop of black athletes in London

The Pretenders singer, Chrissie Hynde, has described her shock at witnessing a “disturbing and aggressive” incident in which police stopped and handcuffed two black athletes who were driving home with their three-month-old baby.

On Monday, the Met referred the incident to the police watchdog. The Met had previously insisted that two reviews of the encounter involving Bianca Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, who are both trained by the former Olympic champion Linford Christie, had identified “no misconduct issues”.

A video of the incident in north London, posted on social media by Christie, prompted scrutiny of the officers’ actions, with Williams accusing the police of racial profiling. On Monday, the Labour leader and former director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said that he could not see justification for the use of handcuffs.

How stop and search in the UK is failing black people – video explainer

In a letter to the Guardian, Hynde said the incident “illustrates how out of touch the police in London have become. They pulled over a couple, made them step out of their car and were handcuffing them, surrounded by nine officers. The couple’s baby was left unattended in their car.

“The incident was disturbing and aggressive and the police van remained parked there for over an hour. The couple were innocent of whatever charges they were suspected of and eventually let go.”

Hynde said there had been a surge of unchecked violence in the area over the past five years but police were now targeting the wrong people. “For years there has been no protection at all on the streets, and now hordes of police are pulling over innocent citizens and causing real distress for no reason,” she wrote.

“Can the police get their house in order and start patrolling the gangs and leaving parents to do their shopping?”

Ricardo dos Santos and Bianca Williams with their baby. Photograph: Handout

Williams, 26, and Dos Santos, 25, who said he had been stopped numerous times by the police previously, are considering legal action over the incident. After nothing was found on their person or in the vehicle, no arrests were made and the pair were released.

The Met said on Tuesday evening: “We have now recorded this incident as a public complaint. The decision to refer to the IOPC [Independent Office for Police Conduct] has been taken due to the complaint being recorded and the significant public interest in this matter and we welcome independent scrutiny of the facts. Two reviews of the circumstances by the Met’s directorate of professional standards have not identified misconduct for any officer involved.”

The Met had previously explained the handcuffing of the couple was “due to the officers’ views as to the manner in which the vehicle was being driven, that the vehicle was attempting to evade police, and due to the driver refusing to leave his vehicle”.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who previously raised the issue with the Met, said: “I welcome the decision to refer the handling of this incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. Allegations of racial profiling are extremely serious and it’s right that it will now be independently investigated.”

The incident is the latest in a series involving police stopping black people to be posted on social media, amplifying existing concerns about discriminatory use of powers.

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