Dawn Butler incident – hopefully this will lead to review and change in the Met Police

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I have been very impressed by the calm and fair way that Dawn Butler MP has dealt with the police stop incident on Sunday. She has been very specific about the particular behaviour she is criticising.

I note that Chief Superintendent Roy Smith, who spoke to Ms Butler following the event, said she had given “a very balanced account of the incident”.

It is disgraceful that Ms Butler has been subjected to abuse on social media following Sunday.

I think this is a timely lesson for the Met Police and I hope it leads to institutional review and change.

Please use the comments thread below to share your experiences on this subject.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • John Marriott 11th Aug '20 - 9:48am

    Apparently the officer concerned keyed in the wrong registration. Human error, possibly; but, even if the car had been registered in Yorkshire, as the ‘wrong number apparently revealed, is it a crime to be driving a Yorkshire registered vehicle in London, unlike, perhaps a London registered vehicle in County Durham? OR, was it something to do with skin colour after all. Surely nobody is going to admit that. It’s a pity that the officer couldn’t have got the number of Ms Butler’s vehicle right first time. As for the abuse she has subsequently received, oh, the wonders of technology!

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 11th Aug '20 - 11:50am

    The official guidance now is that people can drive as far as they like. It was different at the beginning of lock-down, but there are now no restrictions on travel around the country, or the reasons for which we can travel. So there could be no possible justification for the police stopping Dawn Butler.

  • Michael Bukola 11th Aug '20 - 12:20pm

    Frankly, I found the reasoning behind the stop itself to lack creditability and sought to highlight further incompetent ‘knee-jerk’ policing.

    As a liberal, I consider the procedure known as stop and search to be illiberal. Further, I refuse to be subjected to what I believe to be one of the last remaining oppressive regimes within modern-day society.

    Stop and search has been shown time and time again to be a traumatic experience to its survivors, who are disproportionately thou not exclusively, black young men. Many young people has found the experience to be one of victimisation and harassment and as a consequence, life-changing. I literally stopped driving for 10 years due to stop and search. This scenario illustrates Isaiah Berlin’s two concepts of liberty.

  • Sue Sutherland 11th Aug '20 - 1:15pm

    Several of these incidents have been publicised recently and I can’t help thinking that some police officers think that a black person driving an up market car, in this case a BMW, must be a drugs dealer. In one of theses incidents a person in the car asked the officer why they were doing this. The answer was “because I can”.
    If the police are abusing their powers like this there should be a thorough investigation into stop and search to establish whether the gains are worth the loss of public trust. I wouldn’t like to be a BAME member in the present circumstances and not be able to rely on the police treating me fairly. There also needs to be a programme of education and citizen’s assembly type meetings in which the police and communities can discuss the issues and resolve on a better way of working.

  • Antony Watts 12th Aug '20 - 9:59am

    We’re getting at this the wrong way. As soon as you say the words black or white or… you have already indulged in racism.

    This is institutionalised in many local and central government forms and surveys. It is wrong to be asking people’s ethnicity or religion. Very wrong.

    And this must be stopped altogether. We must stop dividing and slicing up our population.

  • Robert (Bristol) 12th Aug '20 - 11:04am

    I actually I think Dawn Butler, as her first response, was wrong to blast this all over social media. Racial profiling should never play a part in police stop and search. However, vehicles seemingly travelling significantly out of area have always attracted interest and always will.

    John Marriott could take comfort in thinking that had the police conducted a registration search on Cummings’ vehicle they might well have stopped it given the lock down rules at the time.

  • Michael Bukola 14th Aug '20 - 8:29am

    @ Robert (Bristol)
    You make our point for me Robert. Cummings’ vehicle would never had come under suspicion as to check his registration due to his ethnicity.

    Had a blackman been seen driving around County Durham, however, suspicion would have been the first thing on the officer’s mind.

  • Timothy Tenson 15th Aug '20 - 12:42pm

    The car was not stopped because it was registered in North Yorkshire (though it was) the car was stopped because after the police mistakenly put in the wrong number their computer showed a different make and model to the BMW dawn Butler was a passenger in. So they were justified in querying the situation under the suspicion of Vehicle licence/registration fraud Vehicle Excise and Registration Act 1994, s.44 . They realised they entered a wrong number, they apologised. No crime committed, a mistake. Pro-active policing is essential for all of our safety.

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