News Walthamstow

Police handcuffed innocent black boys for running in Walthamstow

A local sergeant said the boys’ behaviour was “not normal”
By Josh Mellor

(credit: Met)
(credit: Met)

A local police sergeant insists officers who handcuffed two black teenagers they saw running in Walthamstow did “nothing” wrong.

A video of the boys being handcuffed and searched outside Nandos in the High Street, filmed last September, was widely shared last week, including by local MP Stella Creasy.

It showed the teenagers being searched for drugs by a male and female officer while members of the public filmed the interaction.

In the video, the male officer can be told telling the crowd one of the boys is detained “under the Misuse of Drugs Act”. A Met spokesperson has since confirmed nothing illegal was found.

The officer can be heard saying: “As soon as he saw us he ran away, we had spoken to him and the first thing he said was ‘f**k off’. It’s an offence to swear.”

Giving his version of events, the boy told members of the public he was running to his cousin to “sort something out” when the officer stopped him and began asking questions.

He added: “I don’t need to answer him, he pushes me onto the wall saying ‘you’re detained’ and all that. Obviously I shouldn’t have used those words but… he’s harassing me for no reason.”

A sergeant in Walthamstow’s High Street Safer Neighbourhood Team personally reviewed the body worn footage but said he found “nothing” wrong with the interaction.

Speaking to a stop and search monitoring group yesterday (20th April), Sgt Asad Choudhry said he thought the boys’ behaviour was “not normal”.

He added: “If you watch for body worn footage… those young males made off from the police and were swearing. That is not normal behaviour, officers were very polite throughout the interaction

“Obviously that’s up to officers to justify handcuffs, but professional standards found nothing at all… The officers gave them sufficient grounds for stop and search, they were handcuffed to prevent escape.”

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Stop and search group member Naaman Telfer said he understood the police have a “very, very, very” tough job, but questioned whether the police had a “reasonable level of suspicion” in this case.

He added: “You created a hundred other problems, that’s the big situation… these are 13 or 14-year-olds, young men, they have gone past actually caring because [being stopped by police] is a normal function of their normal lives.”

Responding to the fact that no official complaint was made about the stop, he added: “The reason they don’t complain is because they don’t have faith in the complaints procedure.”

Met statistics for the 12 months up to March 2022 show black people in Waltham Forest remain more than three times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

This is despite only one in four stops for all races in the borough resulting in an arrest or criminal charge. 

Of the 7,000 stops carried out in the borough, the people most likely to be stopped and searched were males between 15-19 years old.

Following the original publication of this article, a Met spokesperson added: “The stop was subject to a review by officers from the Met’s Professional Standards Unit – no misconduct was identified.

“Our learning and training of stop and search is shaped by our complaints process and feedback that Londoners provide us.

“We are redoubling our efforts to listen, engage and explain why we do what we do, to make improvements based off individuals’ ‘lived experience’ and to build trust.

“Anyone who is concerned about how a stop and search is conducted should report it online or raise it to us on social media, where the circumstances will be reviewed and action will be taken. We take all complaints seriously.”

They added that handcuffing is used when officers believe there is a safety issue but that officer training is changing to improve de-escalation of tensions to avoid their use.

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