Statement from IOPC

Our investigation into the arrest of a Black woman by a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer on suspicion of fare evasion in Croydon, in July is continuing.

During the incident, which occurred on Whitehorse Road on the 21st of July, the woman was initially arrested and handcuffed. She was de-arrested and the handcuffs were removed after it was confirmed she had paid the fare.

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.

Our investigation is looking into the actions of MPS officers and staff during their interactions with the woman and her son, including:

  • 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.

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.

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.”

The officer under investigation will be interviewed under criminal caution in due course.

We have contacted a member of the public who witnessed the incident to obtain their account and we are aware that there were a number of other people who also saw the incident take place. We continue to appeal for any witnesses to contact our investigation team by emailing or phoning 0300 303 5731 and leaving a message with your name and contact number.

Statement from Met Police:

Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, responsible for policing in Croydon, said: “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.

“Because of that concern, we made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct which is now carrying out an independent investigation.

“We are co-operating fully with the investigation and are aware of today’s update from the IOPC.

“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.”

The incident happened on Whitehorse Road, Croydon, on the 21st of  July as officers from the Met’s 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 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. When officers were able to take her ticket from her so that the TfL inspectors could check it, they were able to confirm it was valid. She was immediately de-arrested and her handcuffs were removed.

Throughout the incident, the child was comforted by a PCSO who immediately recognised his distress. We regret any impact it may have on him.

We met with the local community within days of the incident and continue to speak with key community leaders to listen to their concerns and provide updates.

The officer, a PC, will remain on restricted duties while the investigation is carried out.