The leader of the Metropolitan Police Federation has called for the government and force leaders to tackle social media firms that enable footage of officers dealing with incidents to be shared.
Ken Marsh said it was time to end “trial by social media”.
“It’s time to step in. We want something done,” he told Police Oracle. “Officers shouldn’t be subjected to this while simply doing their job.”
His intervention followed the Independent Office for Police Conduct’s latest verdict on a complaint about a stop and search at the height of lockdown which was shared on social media.
Their investigation followed incident in May last year when a driver was stopped in Tottenham by officers from the MPS Territorial Support Group (TSG).
He was stopped under the Road Traffic Act. Officers then searched the man’s car under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The driver complained to the IOPC that he had been stopped in an aggressive manner, that the grounds for the search were false, that the force used by the officers was unnecessary, and that they had failed to use PPE when searching him and his car.
The IOPC ruled that officers acted appropriately but should have worn Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the search.
Its review included taking statements from the officers, watching social media footage, assessing body worn video of the incident, and checking MPS policies concerning stop and search and the use of PPE.
Evidence showed that the man failed to comply with the officers’ verbal demands and refused to show his hands, which led to him being handcuffed in his car.
Officers gave a number of reasons for conducting the search, including the manner of driving, the man’s movements inside the vehicle, and a smell of cannabis.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “We know that these types of incidents can have a detrimental impact on public confidence in policing, when there is only a partial picture available of what happened.
“Our independent investigation allowed us to establish the whole picture of what happened and did not find any evidence that this man had been treated differently because of his race, or any concerns around the conduct of the officers.”
He added: “We did find they should have used PPE and could have more clearly explained the reasons for the stop and search.”
The case was just one of a series last summer where the IOPC stepped in after social media coverage of officers investigating members of the public.
Mr Marsh said it was another case that had wasted officer time and public money.
He told Police Oracle: “Yet again my colleagues, after thousands and thousands of pounds have been wasted, have been found to be doing their job exactly as they should.”
A Metropolitan Police statement said: “The Metropolitan Police Service received a complaint about the stop and made a voluntary referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
“The IOPC investigation has concluded and following consultation with the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, it was agreed one part of the complaint would be upheld. This was in relation to the lack of use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by the officers who carried out the search,” it said.
“Those involved have been given reflective practice over the correct use of PPE. The review found no further evidence of wrongdoing and confirmed that the officers did not breach the Standards of Professional Behaviour. The complainant has been informed of the outcome.”
This article first featured in Police Oracle https://www.policeoracle.com/news/local_and_neighbourhood_policing/2021/Apr/09/met-fed-calls-on-chiefs-to-end–trial-by-media–after-iopc-verdict_107056.html