Dawn Butler says Met Police has apologised for stop but not said why

‘I’m black, my friend’s black and he’s got a fairly decent car’: Dawn Butler says Met Police has apologised after officers stopped her in Hackney – but they have still not said WHY

  • The MP for Brent Central tweeted she had been stopped by police in Hackney 
  • Ms Butler, parliament’s third black female MP, later released heated footage
  • Chief Superintendent Roy Smith confirmed there had been a police stop 
  • Scotland Yard said wrong registration had been entered and stop was in error

Labour’s Dawn Butler this morning again questioned why police stopped her and her friend as they drove through London, adding ‘all I can tell you factually is I’m black, my friend is black and he’s got a fairly decent car’.

The MP for Brent Central yesterday accused the police of racially profiling her after she was pulled over while driving in East London.

Today Ms Butler, 50, said officers had told her and the driver they had put their registration number into the system and it had come back registered in north Yorkshire

She said: ‘The police came back and said oh yes the car is registered to you in your name, then the other guy, the younger police officer was asking me if I lived in London, what I was doing in the area, if I was going out where was I going, and I found that quite invasive and I was saying “It’s none of your business where I am going why is that relevant to stopping and searching”.

‘I still don’t why the police punched the number plate into their system, I don’t know what raised their suspicion all I can tell you factually is I’m black, my friend is black and he’s got a fairly decent car.’

Ms Butler filmed her heated confrontation in Hackney with two officers, who she claims demanded to know what was in the back of car. 

The MP for Brent Central filmed her heated confrontation in Hackney with two officers, who she claims demanded to know what was in the back of car

She told the BBC: ‘I said to my friend what’s happening and he said they’re stopping us and I thought ‘wow okay’ and I thought I better start recording, this will make interesting research because just a few days earlier I was saying to Cressida Dick that stop and search doesn’t work and racially profiling people doesn’t work

‘The police came over and he said the car was registered, he asked my friend’s name and where he lived and where the car as registered to and he told him and he said that the car was coming up on their system as being registered in north Yorkshire and he was like ‘I can’t help you it’s my car I know I have registered it’, he said ‘here you go, here’s my driving licence’, gave him his driving licence and he offered his driving licence because he gets stopped all the time.’ 

After being left ‘irritated and angry’, she yesterday branded the Metropolitan Police ‘institutionally racist’.

She said: ‘We were two black people in a car, driving through Hackney, and they thought they’ll stop us. 

‘You can drive anywhere you want to. I mean we don’t have a police state that says you’re not allowed to drive from Brent to Hackney or from Chingford to Brent, you can drive anywhere you want.’

Ms Butler – who in 2015 became the third black woman to be elected an MP after Diane Abbott and Oona King – only yesterday called on Scotland Yard commissioner Cressida Dick to resign for failing to stamp out racism.  

After being left ‘irritated and angry’, she has branded the Metropolitan Police ‘institutionally racist

What is a Section 1 ‘stop-and-search’ order? And why is it controversial? 

‘Stop-and-search’ is a police power to stop, question and search a person who is suspected of doing something illegal, including carrying drugs.  

Section 1(2)(a) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides police officers with the power to stop and search any person, vehicle, or anything which is in or on a vehicle, for stolen or prohibited articles, points and blades, or fireworks. 

Prohibited articles include offensive weapons and articles with which a person is going equipped to steal or cause criminal damage. 

Section 1(2)(b) gives the accompanying power to detain individuals and vehicles for the purpose of conducting a search.

Section 1(3) specifies that the power only applies where the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the relevant article will be found.

In 2017-18 there were 3 stop and searches for every 1,000 white people, compared with 29 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people. 

Her footage shows a uniformed constable standing outside her car, while a female officer’s voice is heard off camera.

The MP says: ‘I’ve been doing a lot of work with the police on stop and search, and how the police are stop and searching, and actually the way you do it and the way you profile is wrong.

‘Because what you do is, you create an environment where you create animosity. 

‘And it’s irritating because you cannot drive around on a Sunday afternoon whilst black because you’re going to be stopped by the police.’  

Speaking to Sky News, she said: ‘The institution is racist. One of the other police officers came and said ‘I can’t see what’s in the back of your car’.

‘You don’t need to see what’s in the back of the car. Why do you need to see what’s in the back of the car? What’s that about?

‘So there is an institutional racism in the police, we know that, and it needs to be taken out. It’s cancerous and it needs to be cut out out of the police force. It’s urgent, it’s really urgent.’  

The MP said: ‘I wasn’t going to go live with this at all, but because the other police officer inflamed the situation so much, I was getting irritated and angry at the way she was approaching me.

‘It’s such a bad way to treat people. It’s exhausting, and tiring and mentally draining. 

‘This is a police service that is supposed to police everyone, and I understand there are issues that need to be dealt with.

‘But deal with it in an equitable way, don’t deal with in an unfair way, in a bias way or a racist way.’

Scotland Yard explained the car was stopped because an officer ‘incorrectly entered’ its registration into a police occupier and identified it as a vehicle registered to an address in Yorkshire.

‘Upon stopping the vehicle and speaking with the driver, it quickly became apparent that the registration had been entered incorrectly and was registered to the driver in London,’ a statement said.

‘Once the mistake was realised the officer sought to explain this to the occupants; they were then allowed on their way.’

The statement did not explain why the registration was entered in the first place.

Labour’s Dawn Butler has railed on social media after being pulled over by police in East London

After the stop, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: ‘This is so unsurprising. When will the Metropolitan Police give up on racial profiling?’

Shadow Lord Chancellor David Lammy tweeted ‘big hugs’ to his Labour colleague 

Left-wing commentator Owen Jones sent his well wishes to Ms Butler on Twitter 

Left-wing commentator Ash Sarkar sent her condolences to the Labour MP

A Met chief superintendent had earlier confirmed there had been a police stop and that the MP had expressed her ‘concerns’.  

Chief Superintendent Roy Smith said: ‘I’ve just spoken with Dawn Butler by phone. 

‘She has given me a very balanced account of the incident. She was positive about one officer and gave feedback on others & the stop. 

‘We are listening to those concerns and Dawn is quite entitled to raise them.’ 

After the stop, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: ‘This is so unsurprising. When will the Metropolitan Police give up on racial profiling?’ 

Kate Osamor MP tweeted to her backbench Labour colleague: ‘Hope you’re ok?’ 

Ms Butler, who served as Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow minister for women and equalities, yesterday hit out at Metropolitan Police officers who rubbished the notion children should be invulnerable to arrest.

In a scathing rebuke, she tweeted: ‘The problem is you are arresting children going for a bike ride or going to the shops for a loaf of bread. 

‘Not all African-Caribbean boys should be viewed as criminals! I should be surprised the police liked this but sadly I’m not.’

And in an article published yesterday, she called on Scotland Yard Commissioner Cressida Dick to resign for failing to stamp out ‘institutional racism’ within her ranks.

She wrote in Metro: ‘In case anyone doubts the experiences of people of colour, the statistics are stark. 

‘The Met are four times more likely to use force on Black people. They have stopped and searched the equivalent of one in four young black men in London during lockdown.’

She added: ‘At this most pivotal time the commissioner thought it appropriate to say that ‘institutionally racist’ is not a ‘useful way to describe’ the force, which is not only unhelpful but offensive. 

‘It is quite telling. Cressida Dick appears to be incapable of tackling this long-known problem, and incapable of showing solidarity with those people who suffer from it the most, so she should resign.’  

The Metropolitan Police said it is looking into the episode and Ms Butler could not be reached.

This week Ms Butler was named by Vogue magazine as one of the 25 most influential women shaping 2020 for her support of Black Lives Matter protests.

She described her backing of the Marxist anti-racism movement as having led to threats of attack on her office and staff having ‘drastically escalated’. 

Last month Great Britain sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were pulled from their car and handcuffed in front of their three-month-old son.

Nothing was found in the search and the Met referred itself to the police watchdog while Cressida Dick was forced to apologise for the ‘distress’ caused. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has launched an investigation into whether officers in England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minority people.

The latest official statistics for stop and search showed a disparity rate of 4.3 for all black, Asian and minority ethnic people and 9.7 for black people. 

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