Black knife amnesty campaigner ‘illegally strip-searched by Met’ at Charing Cross police station

Exclusive: Faron Paul is suing the force over the incident in which he was subjected to a cavity search by six white, male officers

Nadine White
Race Correspondent
Monday 13 June 2022 14:25 BST
<p>Faron Paul with weapons handed to him under his amnesty scheme </p>

Faron Paul with weapons handed to him under his amnesty scheme

A prominent anti-knife crime campaigner who has worked with police claims he was illegally strip-searched by officers at Charing Cross police station, The Independent can reveal.

Faron Paul was taken to the station by Met officers after being arrested during a traffic stop near Picadilly Circus in October last year, before being told to remove his clothing and subjected to a cavity search by six white, male officers. He was charged with assaulting an emergency service officer during the incident but this was later dropped.

According to paperwork sent to the Met by Mr Paul’s legal representatives, seen by The Independent, the activist is suing for malicious prosecution, misfeasance, assault and battery, breaches of the Equality Act and breaches of the Human Rights Act.

In February, an investigation by the police watchdog into a unit based at Charing Cross police station found “disgraceful” bullying, racism and sexual harassment. The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the behaviour, uncovered in social media messages, was “not isolated” or down to ”a few ‘bad apples’”.

Mr Paul runs a knife amnesty scheme called FazAmnesty, in which anyone who wants to hand in a knife but does not want to deal with police can give the 36-year-old the weapon in exchange for JD Sports vouchers, before he passes on the blades to police himself. He has worked with British Transport Police and the Met.

Mr Paul told The Independent: “If they can do this to me, as someone who’s known to them and has been working alongside them in doing positive work, then what chance does the average 18-year-old Black boy have in the streets? I feel dehumanised by this experience.”

Mr Paul is suing the Met police for malicious prosecution, misfeasance, assault and battery

Mr Paul had been a passenger in a car driven by his partner that collided with a black cab in central London. Officers arrived and the activist says he became increasingly distressed as police confronted his partner.

Mr Paul claimed that an officer at the scene physically pushed him on two separate occasions, saying they felt “threatened” by his demeanour, he was then accused of being “obstructive” while shouting at officers and subsequently arrested for “disorderly behaviour” just after midnight, at which point they were brought to Charing Cross police station.

The campaigner says he was then asked to remove his clothing and held down in a cell by three officers on each side of his body while a cavity search was performed.

“I just couldn’t understand why I was naked in a police cell,” Mr Paul said.

“I insulted the officers throughout my arrest and detention because I felt degraded. Being drunk in a car is not a prisonable offence and to have things escalated all the way up to a cavity search is incredibly disturbing. I’m so angry.”

An investigation into police at Charing Cross found ‘disgraceful’ bullying, racism and sexual harassment

Mr Paul said he believes the police had no right to strip-search him. He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court the following month but charges were all dropped.

The Met has faced criticism over high-profile cases in London such as “Child Q”, a 15-year-old Black girl who was strip-searched by officers after teachers accused her of smelling of cannabis. No drugs were found.

Black people are disproportionately subjected to strip searches by the police in London compared to their white peers, according to figures. In the past five years, the Metropolitan police were found to have conducted 172,093 strip searches with 33.5 per cent taking place on Black people when they make up just 11.7 per cent of the London population.

In comparison, White British people in London were subjected to just 45,947 (27 per cent) of strip searches while comprising 44.9 per cent of the city’s population.

Mr Paul said: “Imagine waking up in a cell with no clothes on. This is an abuse of power. While stop and search is, I believe, part of the solution to tackling knife crime, which is something I think is important, there’s no denying that police often use this tactic to target Black people. That’s a big problem.”

A Met spokesperson confirmed a claim had been received from Bhatt Murphy solicitors, representing Mr Paul, that the force would respond to. They added: “In light of the pending civil litigation it is not appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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