Athlete Bianca Williams welcomes review into Met handcuff use

Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams has welcomed the outcome of a review into the Metropolitan Police’s use of handcuffs after she was subjected to a stop and search.

The athlete accused the force of “racially profiling” her and her partner, Ricardo dos Santos, when they were handcuffed and separated from their three-month-old son last July.

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick apologised to Williams after footage of the couple’s car being stopped in Maida Vale, west London, was posted online by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie.

Police officer shot
Police officer shot

Britain’s most senior police officer also launched a review into the use of handcuffs where an arrest has not been made – a tactic most commonly used during stop and search.

The review was led by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, who is also the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for self-defence, arrest and restraint.

Scotland Yard said on Friday that the force will improve its “training, policy and processes” following the review, which makes 10 recommendations.

Williams welcomed the announcement, but said further “effective” racial bias training is also needed.

The said in a statement: “The handcuffs were painful and it was incredibly humiliating to be separated from my baby, in handcuffs outside my home with neighbours walking past.

“While I welcome better training in the Met on the use of handcuffs, the trauma of the incident did not start or end with the handcuffing. It was racial stereotyping and prejudice.

“I would like to see some effective bias training in the police as well as better training on the use of force and not just in relation to handcuffs.”

Mill vs Everton violent disorder
Mill vs Everton violent disorder

Scotland Yard said the force will develop a “specific policy on handcuffing pre-arrest” that will set out “clear guidance for officers, including the requirement to justify any initial application of handcuffs as well as their continued use during an interaction”.

Recommendations include “additional legal training, extended officer safety and improved personal safety training for police officers, de-escalation tactics, and more community input to understand the respective experiences of each during encounters”.

The Met has also amended its stop and search e-form to include any use and justification for handcuffs pre-arrest.

The review included consultations with young black men, aged between 16 and 25, as well as frontline officers.

It found that searches of the same people, where nothing is found, are “extremely corrosive to the person’s and wider communities’ trust and confidence in policing”.

“The public are concerned that the use of handcuffs can be degrading and, whilst accepting there is a place for it, handcuffs should not be the first resort, and more effort should be made in communication and explanation that might make the use of handcuffs unnecessary,” it said.

“The use of handcuffs pre-arrest is an issue of community concern.

“It is clear that there is a sound legal basis in some circumstances for the use of handcuffs pre-arrest in order to conduct a stop and search.

“However, this needs to be justified on every occasion and cannot, and must not, be considered a matter of routine or common practice that is done without proper consideration and recording on each occasion.”