By Charlie Parry
Two brothers are suing the Metropolitan Police after being stopped and searched for fist bumping, they claim.
Dijon Joseph, 30, and his brother Liam, 29, from Lewisham, say they were victims of an illegal, racially-charged stop and search.
Last Thursday, the pair started civil proceedings in court against the Met, alleging discrimination, assault and false imprisonment.
On February 27, 2018, the Josephs were greeting each other outside a Caribbean takeaway in Deptford High Street when the police approached them.
Officers surrounded the brothers, physically detaining them and handcuffing Dijon, while he filmed the altercation on his phone.
They were told they were being searched for drugs, and that their fist bump was suspected of being an “exchange of drugs”.
Neither brother was prosecuted or charged by the police.
Between them they say they have been stopped and searched 26 times, but have not one criminal conviction.
The first time Dijon was held was when he was just 12 years old.
Dijon said: “You never know what’s going to happen. You become conditioned, you become immune almost. It’s not until you become an adult that you know it’s not supposed to be like that.
“It’s racially charged. I’ve never seen or heard about a white person in Mayfair being treated like this.”
After the incident, the brothers complained to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Dijon was sceptical about approaching them: He said: “I was pessimistic to say the least, because of some stories that I’d heard. And when we did meet with them, it seemed like they were looking for reasons not to believe us.”
The watchdog concluded there was insufficient evidence to uphold the complaint, after officers declined to answer key questions about the event.
After exhausting other avenues for justice from the Equality & Human Rights Commission and the Met Commissioner, the pair felt they had no option but to sue.
The Josephs’ solicitor, Bhatt Murphy, which is now working to bring the case to court, says it is receiving a record number of inquiries about the discriminatory use of stop and search.
A Met spokesman said: “The IOPC investigation concluded that there were no findings of wrongdoing in relation to any officer involved in this incident.
“The Met received three learning recommendations from the IOPC.
“In relation to the recommendation around changing the local policy, the new standards of professional behaviour were launched nationally on February 1, 2020, and have been fully accepted into practice by the Met.
“As a result of the second recommendation, stop and search training and unconscious bias training were both reviewed.
“The current stop and search training package for new recruits was developed in close partnership with subject matter experts, and is regularly reviewed by a central team. All recruits are also trained in unconscious bias as part of their foundation course.
“Bespoke stop and search training and unconscious bias training was also delivered to existing front line officers in 2018, as part of their professional development.
“The IOPC also recommended that the Met review the policy around body worn video (BWV).
“Our officers are already directed and taught of the expectation that they should activate their BWV at the earliest possible opportunity in order to maximise the potential to capture evidence.
“Audio and video is already recorded from the point the BWV is activated, with an additional 60 second pre-activation video capability. The Met is the only force to extend this from 30 seconds to 60, as we appreciate the value of being able to offer that extra video capture and enable best evidence.
“Audio is not included in this pre-activation recording so as to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and other legislation.
“This position has been supported by the MPS Information Rights Unit, the Information Commissioners Office and the Surveillance Camera Commission.”
An IOPC spokeswoman said: “During this investigation, IOPC investigators obtained extensive body worn video and mobile phone footage for the police stop and search, which happened in 2018.
“Investigators also obtained the relevant search records, statements from the two men who were searched and initial statements from all six officers.
“IOPC investigators contacted various independent witnesses, but none provided statements.
“The IOPC also made efforts to obtain further accounts from the officers involved, but they declined to provide further comment to the IOPC.
“The video footage and statements available were analysed thoroughly for any evidence of racial discrimination, misconduct or criminality.
“We also conducted a detailed review of stop and search records and data of stop and searches in the area.
“The lead investigator did not identify any objective evidence that justified the bringing of criminal proceedings or that the officers had breached police standards of professional behaviour.
“In isolation, this case did not identify misconduct or evidence of racial profiling, however looking at this in conjunction with other investigations has identified broader concerns that there is a lack of understanding from officers about why their actions may be perceived to be discriminatory.
“That is why we have recommended the MPS takes steps to ensure that assumptions, stereotypes and bias (conscious or unconscious) are not informing or affecting their officer’s decision making on stop and search.”
Pictured top: Dijon, left, and Liam Joseph
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