The official police watchdog has U-turned and announced that it will now investigate after armed officers arrested a Black child for playing with a bright blue water pistol. 

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it had “reconsidered” its position. 

“We initially said the Metropolitan Police Service should investigate the complaint themselves, but following the concerns raised by the boy’s mother, and to provide additional assurance to the wider community, we will now independently investigate,” it announced. 

A press conference was held at Hackney’s IDPAD Centre yesterday (October 19), where community leaders said the incident was evidence of “systemic racism” in the Met Police. 

Speakers said a 13-year-old boy and his much younger sister were playing with bright blue and pink water pistols in Stoke Newington in July when a police officer saw them and reported “a Black male with a gun”. 

A police van was scrambled to the scene and reportedly rammed the boy off his bike or scooter before he was surrounded by armed police and arrested

He was later de-arrested but reportedly suffered injuries and has experienced “continuous” nightmares. 

The Met referred itself to the IOPC, but the watchdog told the force to investigate itself. 

It cleared itself of any wrongdoing. 

Hackney Gazette: Hackney borough commander Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway yesterday apologised for any upset caused to the family, but defended officers’ actionsHackney borough commander Detective Chief Superintendent James Conway yesterday apologised for any upset caused to the family, but defended officers’ actions (Image: Julia Gregory)

A public complaint was made to the IOPC, alleging racism. 

The IOPC again directed the Met to investigate itself - but it has now taken the complaint back to investigate independently. 

Charmaine Arbouin, the IOPC’s London regional director, said: “This was clearly a distressing incident for this boy, his sister and mother and it is right that the complaint is investigated.

“We don’t have the resources to investigate all complaints that are sent to us by the police so when they make a referral we decide if the force should investigate it themselves or if we should take it on.

“Those decisions can sometimes be very finely balanced and that is what happened in this case. When the referral came to us initially, we took into account a number of factors when we decided the Met should investigate.

“This included doing what we believed was right for the family as we understood that their preference was to get it resolved with the force itself without involving us, and that the Met were comfortable with this. 

“We were also confident, and remain confident, that the Met were taking the complaint seriously.

“In the light of the mother’s statement yesterday, and the concerns that have been expressed by the local community in Hackney and more widely we’ve reconsidered our decision and will now investigate this independently.  

“We’ve spoken to the Met and they understand our decision to investigate this independently will enhance transparency.

“We appreciate how upsetting this has been for the family and I hope this will provide assurance to the child’s mother’s that she has been heard. 

“We know that incidents like these also have an impact within policing as well as the wider community, so we will do all we can to conduct this investigation quickly and thoroughly, and will provide updates as it progresses.”

The Met Police has apologised to the family for the distress the incident caused, but defended its officers’ actions.

A community meeting will be held next month in Hackney to discuss race and policing.