Probe finds no evidence of misconduct in police questioning of black couple
- Credit: Archant
A probe into two police officers' questioning of a black couple in Ipswich has found no evidence of misconduct - but that they "could have acted more professionally".
A video, viewed over a million times on Twitter, showed a woman being questioned on a driveway by two Suffolk officers, who said they needed to confirm that the couple were the drivers of a vehicle they had just parked by the house.
The woman filming becomes more upset as the officers offer several different reasons for why they need to see identification, before a female police officer at the scene says in the video: “You’ve turned something peaceful, by being irate, into something it shouldn’t be. You’ve just jumped on a bandwagon.”
The couple were not searched or arrested.
The incident, on June 9 last year, happened in the wake of the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in America.
Graham Beesley, regional director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), said: “This incident raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities."
However, he said the officers' decision to approach the couple were objective and not based on racial profiling or discrimination.
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In the build-up to the events captured on video, an officer was tasked with observing an address nearby on a separate policing matter.
The officer had been tasked with ensuring nobody came or went from the address.
While outside he saw the couple's car drive past twice, prompting him to make enquiries about who the couple were.
"We examined the stop and found that the actions of the officers were appropriate and proportionate, followed approved police policies and that the officers did not treat the man and his wife differently because of their race," said Mr Beesley.
However, the IOPC said it was unfortunate that, for operational reasons ,the officers could not provide the couple with a full explanation as to why they were stopped.
Despite the ruling, Mr Beesley said: "We found that there was room for improvement in some of the officers’ interactions with the couple who were entirely justified in querying why they were being stopped.”
Out of 10 complaints made by the man, the IOPC concluded that on two occasions the officers could have acted more professionally and de-escalated the situation.
It has recommended to Suffolk Constabulary that a restorative practice approach may be beneficial to both parties.
Speaking at the time, Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Kearton said: “Having looked at the issues raised by a large number of people, particularly regarding certain comments which were made on the video, we would like to apologise for the offence these have caused.
“The constabulary is very aware of the depth of feeling surrounding the events of the last few weeks and the issues of racism in our society.
“We always try to ensure we police all our communities with dignity, respect and fairness. Where those values are not met we will do everything we can to learn from that.”
The couple's daughter, who tweeted the original video which sparked the investigation, wrote on Twitter that she was not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation.
"Just an update on this for anyone who remembers! After it was investigated further, they came to the conclusion that the police officers involved were 100% right in their actions and the whole situation was actually my mums fault for 'escalating' it," said the girl.
"I have no words tbh [sic]."