The Metropolitan Police is facing a live complaint of “racial bias” after armed officers arrested a child at gunpoint for playing with a bright blue water pistol.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has confirmed receipt of the complaint – but has referred it to the Met Police and asked the force to investigate itself.

The force was found last year, following a review by Baroness Casey, to be institutionally racist.

The Met referred itself to the IOPC in July after armed officers used a van to knock a 13-year-old Hackney boy off of his bike, then slapped cuffs on him.

The incident occurred in Stoke Newington in July.

It transpired that he and his much younger sister had been playing with bright blue and pink water pistols, but a police officer who saw them reportedly called in that had seen “a black male with a gun”.

The boy was de-arrested but was said by a lawyer representing his family to have sustained injuries.

He is also reportedly suffering “continuous” nightmares.

The IOPC allowed the Met to investigate itself after. It cleared itself of any wrongdoing.

But then a formal complaint was received from a member of the public.

The IOPC said it “included allegations of racial bias and adultification”.

At a press conference about the incident on Thursday morning (October 19), Lee Jasper – chairman of the Alliance for Police Accountability – felt “adultification” was a persistent problem in the Met Police’s relations with Black communities.

Hackney Gazette: Lee Jasper, chairman of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said 'adultification' of black children by the Met Police 'is a real phenomenon'Lee Jasper, chairman of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said 'adultification' of black children by the Met Police 'is a real phenomenon' (Image: Charles Thomson)

“Adultification is a real phenomenon,” he said, adding that Black children were “routinely” viewed as adults by police officers.

The family’s solicitor Raju Bhatt, of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, made a similar point, telling the press conference at the IDPAD Centre in Lower Clapton Road: “The officers saw what was in fact a vulnerable young child but instead they saw a youth – a Black youth – a threatening Black youth – and acted on that.”

He said this was evidence of “systemic racism” in the Metropolitan Police.

The IOPC said of the public complaint: “We assessed the re-referral and decided that the matter should remain with the force’s directorate of professional standards to investigate, given the investigative actions already underway.”

Hackney borough commander Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway said the public complaint was “currently being investigated” by the Met’s standards department.

He apologised “for the trauma caused to the child” but defended officers’ actions, saying police policy is to treat all firearms as real unless proved otherwise.

He said officers had to deal with “fast moving situations, based on the limited information provided to them at the time”.