IOPC monitoring use of force and disproportionality issues across London

Published: 11 Jun 2020

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) Regional Director Sal Naseem today confirmed the IOPC was looking at several incidents around police use of force and disproportionality across London following increasing community concerns.

“Right now, communities across London are expressing real and growing concerns about disproportionality and use of force. Only a few weeks ago we highlighted increasing community concerns about the use of Taser. We are also hearing increasing levels of concern about stop and search and, most recently, fines issued during lockdown being disproportionate to black people,” Mr Naseem said.

Mr Naseem said while the IOPC did not look at all use of force and disproportionality issues involving the police, some serious matters or those which had impacted on public confidence were under investigation.

“Some of the matters have been brought to our attention via social media, some have been referred to us by the MPS, and some I have called in as matters for investigation using powers under the Police Reform Act. We’ve been concerned enough to want to consider these independently of the police,” he said.

Mr Naseem said incidents that have been referred or are being investigated since March included:

  • An independent investigation into contact the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had with a man before he suffered a life-changing injury in Haringey, north London on Monday 4 May 2020. A man in his 20s was Tasered as he jumped over a wall and has now been assessed as having suffered a life-changing injury.
  • An incident on 6 May where a man was stopped in Southwark (London) for a drugs search and was red dotted with a Taser. A video was widely shared on social media.
  • An incident where a 28-year-old woman was restrained by six officers in Lewisham, southeast London on 9 May.
  • An incident in Lewisham where a black man, understood to be an off-duty ambulance driver, was detained outside his London home.
  • An incident on 5 May in Southwark where a man alleges he was stopped and searched by officers who he believes negatively profiled him as a drug dealer and dealt with him aggressively.

As well as continuing to speak with community leaders, Mr Naseem said he has written to London Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime Sophie Linden about community concerns and the role of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in providing an additional level of assurance to the community.

“Consistent and robust local oversight and scrutiny will help build an understanding of the reasons for disproportionality and inform learning, which is what will help drive real change.

“We’d also like to see more action taken locally to provide communities with meaningful opportunities to be consulted on decisions affecting them and input into policing policies, where this is practical. This is important to police maintaining the model of policing by consent.”

“In London, our recently completed investigations featuring stop and search have found that there were issues with the quality of the individual encounter. While there may have been legitimate reasons for the initial police stop and search, we are looking at identifying any thematic learning from these cases.

“There must be more research to understand issues of disproportionality, as well as assurance and scrutiny around tactics like use of force and stop and search.

“More importantly, we want to engage police – their involvement is key to understanding what is occurring and driving any change that is needed. It is incumbent on the police to listen to and respond to these concerns – they need to have the trust of the community.”

Mr Naseem stressed it was important not to pre-empt the outcome of the investigations currently underway by the IOPC.

“We will complete full and independent investigations looking at all the circumstances and whether the use of force by officers was justified and proportionate in each of these instances. We are also looking into complaints that police allegedly acted in a discriminatory manner where these incidents involved black people. The outcome of our independent investigations will not be prejudiced and will remain impartial.”

  • Use of force and armed policing