Croydon TfL fare evasion arrest: Met Police officer faces 'racially aggravated assault' investigation

On July 21 a woman was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and handcuffed in front of her child - before being de-arrested.

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A Met Police officer is under criminal investigation for potential racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment following a suspected fare evasion arrest in Croydon.

The Independent Office For Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the incident in which a Black woman was arrested and handcuffed in front of her child.

She was de-arrested and the handcuffs were removed after it was confirmed she had paid the bus fare. Footage of part of the incident on July 21 on Whitehorse Road was shared widely on social media.

The IOPC is investigating after the Met received a complaint from a family member on behalf of the woman, alleging that she was racially profiled and verbally abused by an officer. The IOPC has received further complaints from the woman involved relating to the treatment she and her son received during the incident.

The investigation is looking into the actions of MPS officers and staff, including:

  • the decision to arrest the woman
  • whether the force used was reasonable, necessary and proportionate
  • whether the woman and her son were treated differently because of their race
  • whether the woman was treated differently because of her sex.

A police constable has been advised that they are being investigated for potential criminal offences related to racially aggravated assault and false imprisonment. The officer is also being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct. The officer, who will be interviewed under criminal caution, remains on restricted duties.

The IOPC says it has reviewed body worn video footage and CCTV footage from the bus the woman exited shortly before her arrest. Investigators have obtained accounts from the woman and police staff present and will be speaking with the Transport for London (TfL) inspectors.

IOPC regional director Mel Palmer said: “The decision to conduct a criminal investigation is not something we take lightly and was made after careful consideration of the material we have gathered to date, including liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). It’s important to emphasise that this development does not necessarily mean that criminal charges or disciplinary proceedings will follow.

"At the conclusion of the investigation, we will decide whether to refer a file of evidence to the CPS for a charging decision and also decide whether any officers should face disciplinary proceedings. Representatives for the woman and the officer have been advised of this update and we will keep them informed throughout our investigation.”

Chief Superintendent Andy Brittain, responsible for policing in Croydon, said: “This incident caused a great deal of concern in the community when it happened and when a video showing part of the events was shared on social media. The incident was clearly distressing for the woman involved and particularly her child.

“Because of that concern, we made a voluntary referral to the IOPC which is now carrying out an independent investigation. We are cooperating fully with the investigation and are aware of today’s update from the IOPC. It is important the incident is thoroughly investigated to understand what happened. As the IOPC has stated, the launching of a criminal or misconduct investigation is not in itself a finding of wrongdoing and we await its conclusions after all the available evidence has been gathered and fully examined.”

The force said in a statement: "The woman involved in this incident was asked to provide her ticket after she got off the bus, but did not do so. She was spoken to by a TfL inspector, then by a PCSO and finally by a police officer. She continued to try to walk away and did not provide her ticket for inspection. She was arrested on suspicion of fare evasion and was handcuffed. When officers were able to take her ticket from her so that the TfL inspectors could check it, they were able to confirm it was valid. She was immediately de-arrested and her handcuffs were removed."

The Met said the child was comforted by a PCSO throughout the incident, adding: "We regret any impact it may have on him."

Any witnesses are asked to contact the IOPC by emailing [email protected] or calling 0300 303 5731 and leaving a message with a name and contact number.