Met chief denies ‘throwing officers under the bus’ with athlete apology


Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has denied 'throwing officers under the bus' by apologising to athlete Bianca Williams.

The force faced accusations of racial profiling after Great Britain sprinter Williams and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, were pulled from their car in a London street in a stop and search.

Speaking on LBC, Dame Cressida said "any officer worth their salt" would have stopped the car because of the way it was being driven.

She told host Nick Ferrari: "I don't personally accept that what we have seen so far on the video in relation to the stop of Miss Williams reveals racism.

"Having seen some of the footage myself, I would say that any officer worth their salt would have stopped that car that was being driven in that manner."

The Met chief said she had apologised to Williams "as one human being to another" for any distress caused, but believed the officers had done nothing wrong.

"I apologised for the distress that she suffered, the distress that was caused. I was very specific," Dame Cressida said.

Asked if she had thrown the officers involved under the bus, she said: "I did not throw them under the bus and I don't, I support them fully in doing stop and search, doing it effectively, doing it in an intelligence-led way, doing it professionally."

Bianca Williams
Bianca Williams

Lawyers for the Met are looking at how the force can start releasing clips of incidents from officers' body-worn video more quickly without breaching privacy laws, to counter criticism stemming from footage posted on social media.

A second incident that provoked controversy was the arrest of Marcus Coutain, in Islington, north London, during which an officer placed a knee on his neck.

Dame Cressida said: "The techniques that you saw are not taught in training."

But she insisted that dealing with suspects can be a "fluid situation" involving physical confrontation.

All Met officers have been told not to take the knee, a gesture of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, in operational situations, after some were seen doing so during protests on June 7.

Dame Cressida said: "They'd endured, all of them, a long, hard day, hours of protest, they were being abused and shouted at by all kinds of people – not least my black and minority ethnic officers suffering racial abuse. They're police officers so they get on with their job.

"That section of the crowd were saying again and again and again 'Take the knee, take the knee, take the knee'. I imagine, but I haven't spoken to them personally, that they thought, in order to keep that bit of the crowd a bit quieter and to show some respect and some humility, some respect for what had happened to George Floyd, they took the knee."

She went on: "I wouldn't, I'm a professional police officer and I don't think we should in operational duties."