The Metropolitan police have apologised to Dijon and Liam Joseph and paid tens of thousands of pounds in damages for a stop and search incident in 2018. Officers saw the two black men innocently fist bumping in south London and wrongly suspected them of dealing drugs.
The brothers were left ‘humiliated and distressed’ from the incident, with one of them being placed in handcuffs. This was a common occurrence for the brothers, as they’d been stopped and searched more than 25 times between them since they were children. The brothers believed they were targeted because of their skin colour, and as a result sued the force for false imprisonment, assault and racial bias.
The Met initially chose to fight the case, and asked to change their defence after the court started hearing evidence, leading to criticism from the judge. Eventually, the Met agreed to pay damages and the pairs’ legal costs, issue a wide-ranging apology, and declare the brothers to be of ‘good character’, stating that they ‘did nothing wrong to cause the police to stop them.’
Six officers were involved in the 2018 incident where no drugs were found on the brothers and no further action was taken. It was claimed they were stopped because the Deptford area where the incident took place was known for drug dealing. The Met claimed that as well as the fist bumping, it looked like an object had been passed between the brothers. The police alleged that Dijon had to be handcuffed for ‘acting aggressively.’
The force’s apology in the settlement stated: “It being agreed, a letter of apology will be sent on the defendant’s behalf to each claimant acknowledging they are men of good character who did nothing wrong to cause the police to stop them on 27th February 2018, that they found the experience traumatic and humiliating, that their prior experiences of stop and search reflect those of other young black men in London over many years, and that the defendant is publicly committed to rebuilding the trust and confidence of the black communities in policing.”
“We understand why some communities may feel over-policed and we are listening. We are redoubling our efforts to listen, engage and explain why we do what we do to build trust in the tactic,” a Met spokesperson said.
“This case joins a growing list of successful claims against the commissioner by young black men who have been unfairly targeted by police over many years using stop and search powers. Well-meaning words are not enough: the commissioner now needs to openly acknowledge that the stop and search tactic needs total review and reform,” commented Dijon and Liam’s solicitor.