Man suing Chief Constable over 'racially motivated arrest'

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Charlie Hall.

Hertfordshire Chief Constable Charlie Hall. - Credit: Archant

A Hatfield man is suing the Chief Constable of Herts over claims he was arrested due to the colour of his skin.

Roland Wilkerson, 43, of Cherry Way, said his wrists were also bruised by excessively tight handcuffs during the incident on April 15.

Together with his partner Lisa Kingston, Roland had gone to collect his daughter Jordana from Onslow St Audrey's School in Old Rectory Drive, when they received a call from her in which she was screaming for help.

Lisa got out of the car and ran off towards the school while Roland found somewhere to park, and he arrived to see a large group of around 100 children and several teachers gathered outside the school, where some sort of altercation was in progress.

Roland said he saw a short brown-haired girl throw a can of coke at Lisa, hitting her on the cheek, before launching herself at his partner, grabbing her hair and pulling her to the ground. Meanwhile, another blonde girl attacked Jordana and knocked her onto Lisa.

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One of the teachers tried to restrain the first girl, while Roland went to the aid of Lisa and Jordana, lifting them to their feet, but the blonde attacked his daughter again and blows were exchanged.

Both Lisa and a teacher then called the police, and Roland put Jordana into his car for safety.

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Around eight police cars arrived on the scene, with around seven officers going into the school while three remained outside, but Roland says none of them asked him or Lisa any questions, and he then overheard one of the girls involved in the incident telling police he had hit her.

When he went to tell headteacher David Bullock he was leaving, two of the police officers arrested him and slapped him in handcuffs.

"He said he was arresting me on suspicion of common assault and ABH... I told the officer he didn't need to nick me as I'd come to the police station voluntarily...

"Mr Bullock told the officers he had not seen me do anything wrong multiple times, but the officers ignored him."

He asked for the handcuffs to be loosened as they were causing him pain, but says officers ignored his request and only acted after the headteacher's request.

"I felt discriminated against, as if the white police officers had given more credence to Mr Bullock's request because he was a white man and ignored me because I am a black man."

Roland was searched, put into a police van and taken to Hatfield Police Station. He realised he was the only person who had been arrested, even though he had not been involved in the fracas, and also the only black person at the scene.

He was detained in custody for several hours, during which time he told the duty inspector how the arrest had proceeded, that he believed it was racially motivated and had been detained for no reason.

He was not formally interviewed, no explanation was given as to why he had been arrested, and he was told he could not leave unless he answered questions about whether he had taken drugs or alcohol, and had any thoughts of suicide or harming anyone.

It was only after his solicitor arrived that he was allowed to leave without answering any of these questions, and returned home with no further action taken.

A spokesperson for Herts police said: "Shortly after 4pm on Thursday 15 April, officers arrested a man outside Onslow St Audrey’s School, Old Rectory Drive, Hatfield.

"The man, aged 43 and from Hatfield, was arrested on suspicion of actual bodily harm against a 16 year old girl and common assault against a 13 year old girl. He has since been released with no further action to be taken.

“We have received a complaint in connection with the arrest. The complaint is currently in its initial stages of investigation by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Professional Standards Department so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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