London police accused of searching black man but not his white friend

Francis Akhalbey April 28, 2023
Tallan Bent, a Black man, alleged Met Police officers stopped and searched him but not his White friend -- Photo Credit: Bob Jenkin

A 36-year-old Black man has reached an out-of-court settlement with London’s Metropolitan Police after alleging officers racially discriminated against him when they stopped and searched him but not his White friend. 

According to the Mirror, the April 2020 incident occurred while Tallan Bent and a friend were having a conversation in southeast London. The Black man was sitting on his bike while his friend was in a parked car.

Two police officers who subsequently pulled over decided to use the Misuse of Drugs Act as a basis to handcuff and search Bent. The officers felt that the season did not call for Bent to wear multiple clothing layers, and the bike he was using did not fit his size. 

The officers did not find anything illegal in Bent’s possession, but his White friend and the car were not searched. Following the incident, Bent initiated legal action against the Met Police after initially filing a complaint with the department and the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog. His lawsuit was financed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

However, the Met Police opted to reach a settlement before the case headed to court without admitting any wrongdoing, per the Mirror. “I’m very disappointed with the way I was treated by the police. I find it hard to believe that the police are still targeting young black men. The only reason for this seems to be racial discrimination and it has to stop,” Bent said in a statement issued through his solicitor.

“I hope that by bringing my claim against the police I have shone a light on their failure to respect my rights and I want people who experience mistreatment by the police to know that they can make their voice heard. I find it shocking that the complaint took so long to resolve and I strongly believe the complaints process needs reform.”

The amount Bent received was, however, not disclosed. “The Met received a claim in relation to the stop and search of a man under the Misuse of Drugs Act on April 21, 2020, in south-east London,” a Met Police spokesperson said. “The claim was settled before proceedings were issued and without any admission of liability.”

A spokesperson for the Equality and Human Rights Commission said they “have longstanding concerns about the disproportionate use of stop and search by the police”, adding that they “will continue to monitor” the policy.

“As Britain’s equality regulator, our legal support fund helps individuals to seek justice by covering the costs of legal action in race discrimination cases,” the spokesperson said. “The law is clear: no one should be subjected to harassment or discrimination due to their race or ethnicity, either at work or elsewhere.”

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 28, 2023


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