South Wales Police has referred itself to the IOPC following the deaths of two teenagers that sparked riots in Cardiff involving up to 150 people.
The move comes after CCTV footage emerged contradicting the denial by South Wales’ Police and crime commissioner Alun Michael that the teenagers were being chased by police before their fatal crash.
Earlier today (May 23), Michael said such rumours which sparked the riots were “false” before video footage, verified by the BBC, emerged to contradict his statement.
The CCTV footage is time stamped to one minute before the crash and shows the two teenagers riding past on an off-road motorcycle. One second later a police van follows them.
After a night of rioting in Ely, Cardiff, the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) said on Tuesday morning that it had not received a referral from South Wales Police and that there was “no indication it would receive one”.
However, by the evening that had changed with the force saying it would refer itself to the watchdog.
Divisional commander for Cardiff & The Vale Chief Supt Martyn Stone said: “We have received footage that shows a police vehicle following a bike at just prior to 6pm.
“This footage is being recovered as part of the investigation and will assist us in piecing together the circumstances leading up to the collision.”
Stone declined to answer questions from reporters after delivering his statement.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Cardiff council Rodney Berman said: “The emergence of this CCTV footage raises serious questions over the version of events provided by South Wales police and police and crime commissioner Alun Michael and apparent contradictions within it.
“Given there is concern over the timeline provided of events leading up to the crash, which appears to contradict local reports and video evidence, this incident needs to face an immediate, impartial investigation.
“I would also like to appeal to communities across Cardiff to remain calm and to allow appropriate actors to investigate. The last thing we need is for any innocent people to be caught up in the type of violence we saw last night.”
Tomos Morgan, reporting for the BBC on the aftermath of the riot in Ely following the death of the two teenagers – Kyrees Sullivan, 16, and his friend Harvey Evans, 15 – described the scene as “like an absolute warzone”.
Cars were torched as fireworks and missiles were hurled at the police. Fifteen officers were injured in what South Wales Police called “large scale disorder”.
A live-streamer of the disturbances, posting on Facebook, said: “We all came up to pay our respects [to the boys] and [the police] tried hitting us with batons, so we reacted.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) oversees the police complaints system in England and Wales and investigates “the most serious matters” regarding policing. It was set up in 2018, replacing the Independent Police Complaints Commission.