Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos stop and search
Image caption Police apologised after stopping and searching Team GB athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo dos Santos

The police watchdog is launching a review into whether officers across England and Wales racially discriminate against ethnic minorities.

Stop-and-search and the use of force will be among the issues examined by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

It follows criticism of the police in recent cases caught on camera.

The Metropolitan Police apologised this week to athlete Bianca Williams over a stop-and-search incident.

IOPC director-general Michael Lockwood said the review’s focus on racial discrimination is intended “to establish the trends and patterns which might help drive real change in policing practice”.

Stop-and-search powers are nine times more likely to be used against black people than against white people in England and Wales, but Mr Lockwood said they needed to better understand how these disparities occurred and how they could be addressed.

He said the review will involve independently investigating more cases where racial discrimination may be a factor to “develop a body of evidence” and identify systemic issues.

The IOPC is currently investigating a series of cases in London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester in which it is alleged police used excessive force, and in some cases Tasers, against black men.

It is also looking into claims of racial profiling after Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos, who are both black, were handcuffed and searched by police during a vehicle stop.

After footage of the incident was posted online by former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick apologised for the “distress” it caused Ms Williams.

‘Trust and confidence’

The IOPC will also investigate more cases where victims from BAME communities felt unfairly treated by police, Mr Lockwood said.

These could include whether the police are treating allegations of hate crime seriously, or if there are cases where police are failing to treat them as victims of crime.

“We know this is an issue of community concern. Our police forces can only police effectively with the trust and confidence of the community they serve,” he said.

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