A Black trainee lawyer has spoken out after he said he was stopped by five police officers because he “looked suspicious” on his way to visit a client in prison.
Eldred Taylor-Kamara, 26, of MTC Solicitors, was traveling to HMP Lewes, East Sussex, on the afternoon of October 24 when he was questioned by British Transport Police officers at Lewes National Rail Station.
Dressed in a full suit and tie, he said he was asked to account for his trip. including where he had started, his purpose and was asked to provide specific details such as locations and times, leaving him “stressed and physically shaken”.
When Mr Taylor-Camara answered their questions and asked why he was being questioned, he said he had been observed looking “lost”, which “raised their suspicion” and he was asked to provide identification.
The lawyer believes he was racially abused by officers who, in his view, were unable to provide a “reasonable explanation” for why he was stopped and subjected to “extensive questioning”. Police said they received “information” about an “extremely violent” drug dealer in the area and matched the description.
“I felt vulnerable and targeted,” Mr Taylor-Camara said The independent. “They say the attitude was ‘below intelligence’. However, if this is the case, I am concerned about the glaring mistakes that were made – the approach of the officers who were supposed to be acting on intelligence was clearly inadequate and the intelligence was simply inaccurate.
“The justification for the stoppage was disturbing. She pointed out the police disconnect between herself and those in the public who are likely to face this kind of treatment – namely, people who are black and male.
“Because of the officers’ behavior and the inadequacy of the response to my complaint, the only reasonable reasoning I could come up with at that time is that I was stopped because I’m a young, black, male.”
Mr Eldred-Taylor complained to British Transport Police, but it was not upheld. The force defended its actions, saying officers behaved in an “acceptable” manner – a response Mr Eldred-Taylor described as “disappointing”.
“The behavior of the officers made me feel intimidated and publicly humiliated. Despite my formal attire and my explanation that I worked for a firm of solicitors, I was treated with suspicion and subjected to extensive questioning,” Mr Taylor-Camara said in a letter to the body.
He said The independent: “This is not to say that people in formal attire do not commit crimes, but using this as a basis to approach me in a busy station is not acceptable.
“The most important thing for me is raising awareness about this issue. For those who experience this, I know this is nothing new. However, for those who are trying to pursue a professional career, believing that it provides them with protection from profiling… I want them to know that this is still a possibility. It is important to highlight this reality so that it informs others.”
This scenario reflects the breakdown of trust between UK police forces and black communities, Mr Taylor-Camara added.
Blacks are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites, and five times more likely to be assaulted.
Commenting on the case, barrister and The Chase quiz star Shaun Wallace said despite promises of “real and positive change” following the findings of the MacPherson Report into police racism, prompted by the response to the killing of Stephen Lawrence, Nothing has changed. .
“Eldade, quite understandably and correctly, complained about his treatment and the behavior of the so-called investigators and made a formal complaint to a British Transport Police complaints department, however, predictably, his complaint was dismissed.”
Comparing this case to the controversial police stops of athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos, Mr Wallace said the “disturbing stories” only showed that the widespread problem of racial profiling in the police shows “little signs of abating”.
“But what can be done about it? Proper training of the force in anti-discrimination areas? A truly independent commission to investigate such matters in order to ensure greater accountability? Maybe so, but these are just two suggestions on an endless list of what can and should be done to eradicate the cancer of racial stereotyping that damages the already non-existent trust that blacks and other ethnic minorities.
“Until a permanent solution is found, we must remain vigilant and continue to shed light on such dark and shadowy practices.”
A BTP spokesman said an investigation, which included a review of footage of the stop and interviews with all the officers involved, found their actions were acceptable and no further action was taken.
“Our officers who patrol the rail and deal with passengers every day are not there to cause disruption, but to ensure that everyone is safe and that the network remains a hostile environment for offenders. therefore, and we will always provide our full rationale for doing so,” they added.