Assaulted and thrown out of driving test centre because of my race

by Abu Muhidin

Assaulted and thrown out of driving test centre because of my race

by Abu Muhidin
Abu Muhidin
Case Owner
Hi, I'm Abu. I am 26 years old from North London. I am a media Production Manager. I was racially discriminated and abused by the staff at a DVSA Practical Test Centre in Brookmount Court, Cambridge.
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Abu Muhidin
Case Owner
Hi, I'm Abu. I am 26 years old from North London. I am a media Production Manager. I was racially discriminated and abused by the staff at a DVSA Practical Test Centre in Brookmount Court, Cambridge.
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My name is Abu Muhidin. I’m 26 years old and from North London. I work in media as a production manager. I am black British. I recently attempted to take my driving test, but when I arrived at the test centre, I was racially profiled, denied the right to take my test and thrown out the test centre because of my race!

On the 25th September, I booked my practical driving test at Brookmount Court DVSA test centre in Cambridge. It was a long way from home, but I’d been waiting for a slot to become available for weeks, and when the DVSA website said there was a test available in Cambridge on that day, I thought it would be worth dropping everything and getting up there to get my test done. Little did I know what was about to happen.

When the time came for my test, the staff called my name and I approached the desk. Part of the process is the examiner asks to see your provisional licence to check whether you are the same person shown in the photo.

The picture of me on my licence is a recent photo. It’s the same one that’s on my passport and other forms of ID. I’ve never had an issue with it before - it’s an excellent likeness.

But to my utter disbelief, the examiner said flatly, ‘that’s not you.’ I was stunned. I thought at first he was joking. What can you say to that? It’s me! I sat my theory test with that same licence. It was issued by the DVLA… It’s also on my passport that I use to travel internationally! No one has ever said it’s not me before!

I asked the examiner to check again, and again he said it’s not me. In complete shock, I tried to offer other forms of ID that he could verify. I even have the full colour original photo in my phone case, but he was not interested. He said he would not allow me to do my test and that I needed to take it up with the DVSA if I had a problem with that.

I was in a state of shock. The photo is very clearly me and now in front of the entire test centre, the examiner was accusing me of attempting to commit fraud. The conduct was wholly unwanted, inappropriate and naturally, I felt humiliated and was offended.

I asked to speak to someone else, a manager, anybody who could help me. All I wanted to do was sit my driving test, just like the other people at the test centre, many of whom were of a different race. In fact, I was the only non-white person in the centre at the time.

The staff at the test centre that I interacted with were all white. To make matters worse, two burly members of staff, who looked like bouncers at a nightclub, came rushing out and told me to leave immediately. Despite everything that had happened, I remained calm, politely insisting that the least they could do was let me speak to a manager. That reasonable request was denied. Their tone became more intimidating and aggressive. I was told aggressively to just get out. They accused me of raising my voice and told me that the Police were on their way. Concerned that they would become violent, I began a recording on my phone. As you can clearly see from the video evidence, which I have uploaded to this campaign, I was not the one either speaking or behaving inappropriately. Despite the tirade of abuse, I remained calm and respectful:

But the next thing I knew, I was being manhandled out the test centre. They threw me out and locked the doors behind me.

It is my belief that I was racially profiled by the examiner and by other staff at Brookmount Court test centre. They looked at me, saw a young black man, and just assumed that I was a criminal there to commit fraud. I tried again and again to plead with them, to find a solution, and they were not interested.

In the aftermath, I contacted anti-discrimination specialist solicitors Rahman-Lowe, who believe I have a very strong case against Brookmount Court for racial discrimination. In particular, under the Equality Act 2010, I have a right to equal access to goods and services, in a way that means I am not treated less favourably than others of a different race. I believe I am not the first person to have experienced this treatment at their test centre as this tweet I found seems to suggest:

Furthermore, a Guardian article from 2021 showed a shocking bias towards black and ethnic minority candidates in driving tests: Revealed: bias faced by minorities in UK driving tests | Transport | The Guardian

I had been accused of raising my voice and seen as aggressive even when it is clear from the footage that I was calm and polite. This label of being “aggressive” or “threatening” falls into a well-trodden pattern that is frequently used as a tactic to undermine Black people. I am far from the first Black person to be accused or perceived as being aggressive (in this instance, even meriting a call to the police). This visceral, knee-jerk reaction when a Black person displays any kind of emotion, is often a symptom of the ‘angry Black person’ stereotype, which is discriminatory. Regrettably, this archaic stereotype is still used today to characterise Black people as aggressive, ill tempered, illogical, overbearing, and ignorant. This is nothing but a deflection technique, a mechanism to detract from the original source of the discomfort which is usually some injustice that has happened to the Black person.

I would therefore like to take Brookmount Court test centre to court for racial discrimination. To do so, however, will cost in the region of around £15,000 - £20,000, which is money I simply do not have. This case is about breaking down the barriers of inequality that exists in society in respect of the denial of equal right to services. Members of the BAME community continue to suffer inequalities and discrimination when accessing services, and in my case, I was physically thrown out of the test centre. I do not believe a white person would have been treated in the same degrading manner.

My solicitors have advised that I have a very strong case and I firmly believe that this action will send a very strong message to Brookmount Court and other test centres that racial discrimination, harassment and victimisation of black and ethnic minority candidates is simply unacceptable.

I would massively appreciate your contributions and support in bringing this action, and if anything like this has happened to you or someone you know at Brookmount Court or another driving test centre please let me know.

This is a public-spirited case that I will not be able to pursue without your support. Therefore, please contribute if you can and I would be grateful if you could also share my campaign to raise awareness.

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