‘Bus stop arrest’ constable placed under criminal investigation

A Met Police constable is being investigated for potential criminal offences related to racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment following the controversial arrest in Croydon in July of a black woman when she had a valid ticket to travel on a London bus.

The officer is also being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct.

The officer is currently on restricted duties, but has not been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Video of the incident, which showed the woman and her young son in great distress at a bus stop on Whitehorse Road, went viral on social media.

Sources have advised Inside Croydon that following this incident, Transport for London suspended all fare evasion checks on its buses across the capital for several weeks; in Croydon, the fare checks were suspended for longer still.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has this afternoon released a statement which revealed that the incident was submitted to them for investigation by the police in Croydon after the Met had received a complaint from the woman’s family alleging racial profiling and verbal abuse by an officer. The woman subsequently submitted a further complaint of her own.

The Met’s version of events is that the incident happened on July 21 when a PC and a PCSO from the Roads and Transport Policing Command “were supporting Transport for London revenue inspectors in the area. TfL inspectors were checking tickets as part of their fare evasion operation, with police only becoming involved where details were not provided or where someone tried to leave when challenged”.

The Met says: “The woman involved in this incident was asked to provide her ticket after she got off the bus, but did not do so. She was spoken to by a TfL inspector, then by a PCSO and finally by a police officer. She continued to try to walk away and did not provide her ticket for inspection.

“She was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and was handcuffed.” The handcuffs were removed after it was confirmed she had paid the fare.

The IOPC said today: “Our investigation began following a complaint referral from the MPS three days later. The complaint, which was made by a family member on the woman’s behalf, alleged that she was racially profiled and verbally abused by an officer.

“During our investigation we have received further complaints from the woman involved relating to the treatment she and her son received during the incident.”

The IOPC says that it is investigating “the actions of MPS officers and staff during their interactions with the woman and her son”.

These include:

  • the decision to arrest the woman
  • whether the force used was reasonable, necessary and proportionate
  • whether the woman and her son were treated differently because of their race
  • whether the woman was treated differently because of her sex

The IOPC said: “We have secured and reviewed evidence including officers’ body worn video footage and CCTV footage from the bus the woman exited shortly before her arrest. IOPC investigators have also obtained accounts from the woman involved and police staff present and will be speaking with the Transport for London inspectors.

Viral: the video of the black mum’s arrest caused outrage

“An MPS constable has recently been advised that they are being investigated for potential criminal offences related to racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The officer is also being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct.”

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “The decision to conduct a criminal investigation is not something we take lightly and was made after careful consideration of the material we have gathered to date, including liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

“It’s important to emphasise that this development does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.

“At the conclusion of the investigation, we will decide whether to refer a file of evidence to the CPS for a charging decision and also decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings.

“Representatives for the woman and the officer have been advised of this update and we will keep them informed throughout our investigation.”

Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, the Borough Commander in Croydon, today maintained that the Met’s referral of the case to the IOPC was “voluntary”.

Community policing: Ch Supt Andy Brittain

“This incident caused a great deal of concern in the community when it happened and when a video showing part of the events was shared on social media. The incident was clearly distressing for the woman involved and particularly her child.”

Chief Super Brittain said that his officers are “co-operating fully with the investigation”.

He said: “It is important the incident is thoroughly investigated to understand what happened. As the IOPC has stated, the launching of a criminal or misconduct investigation is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing and we await its conclusions after all the available evidence has been gathered and fully examined.”

In a statement issued from Scotland Yard, the Met said: “Throughout the incident, the child was comforted by a PCSO who immediately recognised his distress. We regret any impact it may have on him.”

The IOPC said: “We continue to appeal for any witnesses to contact our investigation team by emailing whitehorseroad@policeconduct.gov.uk or phoning 0300 303 5731 and leaving a message with your name and contact number.”

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8 Responses to ‘Bus stop arrest’ constable placed under criminal investigation

  1. Peter Underwood says:

    The videos of this arrest that were shared online looked appalling. Given past history, questions about racial profiling and how the police treat women are important ones to raise in this case. I won’t leap to judgements but it is clear that this incident does need to be investigated so we can all be clear about what went on.

    While the details of this case will be investigated, I will say we should also be asking the question why were police there in the first place? We know police resources are stretched after all of the cuts, and TfL have their own fares inspectors, so who thought that the best use of police time would be arresting people over a two-pound bus fare? Why is policing focused on such petty crimes, often committed by people with little power or money? I can think of far bigger crimes, affecting far more people, that have still not been investigated – and the corrupt politicians who committed them are still walking free.

    • Is there a Green policy on all the issues you raise Peter? If so, let’s hear about them – Croydon desperately needs some new ideas on crime and safety.

    • Dan Kelly says:

      Perhaps if Mr Underwood had tried searching “Attacks on TfL Revenue Protection Officers” he’d answer his own questions!
      A Guardian article says that in 2019 “There were 35 attacks involving a knife or with a risk of knife violence last year, up by 84 per cent since 2016/17 from just 19 incidents. ” Maybe he could find out how many other attacks occurred.
      A BBC article of four days ago says TfL lose £130 million a year! Maybe it’s only £2 a go, but repeated a couple of times a day every day, it soon adds up.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Revenue Control inspectors and personnel face a mountain of abuse daily.
    Police face a mountain of abuse daily.

    Innocent people are detained from their lawful business daily and this causes them huge logisitcal issues.

    All are victims of those that are unwilling to abide by simple social mores and reasonable behaviour and feel they can abuse verbally those that seek to prevent teir appalling attitude and behaviour.

    Others are victims of abuse of authority and react probably badly and then get a worse treatment to force them. This is and always will be wrong.

    none of us know why that lady reacted. None know why the officer acted in that way. video can be out of context but one thing we all should realise.
    When such things happen we have a system that will look and investigate the incident. Today we have an Authority that is willing to do the investigation and openly state what it is doing.
    That is an act that should be lauded and welcomed by everyone as too often that has not been the case.
    Whatever the fault both parties should be able to come together and understand the causation of each others acts and therefore prevent it happening again.

    I do not agree with Peter as I am fully aware why the Police are required to assist nd the extent of a transport officers authority.

    Peter has a very valid point on priority as they are petty crimes and there are so many but all other petty crimes are ignored including shoplifting. The Police should work with all enforment areas and receive data from them. But it should not favour any particular one with resource not commensurate with its role. Especially when a place like Croydon Council abandoned its duties and in effect the Met is having to deal with escalations of civil matters this Council has both created and ignored

    Peter would be better asking about how this environment came about and take to task those two political parties and the administration responsible for that dereliction of duty.

  3. Dave Russell says:

    Why did the woman not show proof of payment of the fare to the Revenue Protection Officer when asked?
    Why did she wait until after being arrested before doing so?
    On the face of it she seems to have had an axe to grind.

  4. Neil says:

    What tickets? It’s all cash cards and smartphones

  5. Carl Lucas says:

    She could have just proven that she had paid like everyone else has to and this would have never escalated.

  6. A thorough and impartial investigation should reveal the facts about what actually occurred. There’s a risk that this will disappoint people who weren’t there but firmly believe they know everything that happened and why

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