Campaigners have criticised the Metropolitan police after a video showed officers detaining a Black driver on suspicion of using Vaseline from his car to smuggle drugs inside his bottom.
The two minute clip – which gained over one million views – was filmed on Friday afternoon in south-east London and showed the man in handcuffs.
Some six officers were at the scene on Bromley Road and a van was parked nearby, while people began to congregate and film the incident.
When one bystander asked why the man was being stopped and searched, an officer said: “to search someone we have to have reasonable grounds to suspect. One of those things in this scenario is that there’s Vaseline in the car.”
“Commonly (...) sadly a lot of people do like to plug drugs up their bum. To get it up there they’d like lubricant and that lubricant, a lot of the time, is Vaseline,” the officer continued.
“So that is one of the reasons that made us suspect that has made us suspect that he may be in possession of drugs.”
The bystander proceeded to ask the officer whether she saw the Vaseline when they drove past the man shortly before the clip ends.
Viewers swiftly condemned the force and accused officers of racially profiling the driver, a 24-year-old man.
One user wrote: “For the love of jesus! This is a product most black people use @metpoliceuk are as thick as two flipping short planks and @Sadiqkhan must make some changes and it starts with employing officers with more than half a brain cell!!”
The Labour Party’s Black Women Network wrote: “Calmly challenge all of it, everywhere you encounter it. Often it’s not this blatant. Black people calling for police help can often end up being harassed, provoked, vilified, labelled as vexatious, sectioned, tasered, arrested, brutalised, killed & they wonder why there is no trust!”
Another person added: “I have Vaseline in my car right now. And I’ve had Vaseline in my car for years. I’ve never been stopped for this reason. And if I was, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t result in 6 police officers, a police van and myself in handcuffs. Wonder why?”
The Met said the driver was pulled over as he was “deemed to be driving suspiciously” but refused to exit the vehicle and cooperate with officers.
After some time, he exited the car and was informed he was being detained for the purposes of a search under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
According to the force, the driver obstructed the search and after time spent engaging with him, he “refused to cooperate” and he was arrested for obstruction. Once the situation had deescalated, the man was de-arrested.
Due to a large crowd gathering in the vicinity, it was decided the search would take place at a police station where he was said to have again obstructed officers. He was rearrested for the offence and subsequently charged with obstructing a search.
The young man is due to appear at Bromley Magistrates’ Court on 14 August.
A Met spokesperson told HuffPost UK: Police are aware of a video circulating on social media that shows part of the incident.
“Each stop and search is dealt with on its own merits at the discretion of the individual officers involved, taking into account various aspects including behaviour and compliance.
“Officers have to make these judgement calls regularly on a daily basis, often in difficult circumstances.”
“They understand that their actions will be scrutinised as they go about their work and that the public have the right to hold them to account where appropriate,” the spokesperson added.
Black people in England and Wales are 40 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched, according to analysis of Home Office data.