POLICE say officers decided to stop and search a teenager because he was acting suspiciously and there had been reports of drug dealing in the area – but the boy’s mother claims he was targeted because he’s black.

Vanessa Santos said her son, Vanylson, 14, was riding his bike to St Paul’s Church, Worcester, on Sunday morning when he was followed down the street by a police car.

The teen got off his bike and entered the church, where he volunteers on Sundays, and was followed inside by an officer who subsequently handcuffed him, his mum claims.

Miss Santos said: “The police officer got out his car, went into the church and arrested my son. He had his right arm grabbed and handcuffed.”

Members of staff asked the officer why they had cuffed Vanylson and they replied: “he looks suspicious”, Miss Santos claimed.

“They did this without even asking him ‘what are you doing here?’. He has been cuffed for no reason.”

Miss Santos went on to say staff members explained that Vanylson was a volunteer, and the police eventually “uncuffed him and left, without even an apology”.

She believes her son’s skin colour was the reason for him being pursued by the officer.

“I just think it is harsh the way they dealt with it. There was no reason for him to be cuffed at 14 years old.

“What would you expect a young boy to be doing inside a church on a Sunday morning?

“I prepare my son and tell him that with our skin colour, unfortunately we are labelled.

“I tell him that people will react in different ways and some people will be nice to him, but others will not be so nice. I tell him to be calm and respect people’s opinions and show that we are good people.”

She added: “He was very embarrassed and distressed.”

Miss Santos, who is black Portuguese, said Vanylson is well liked in the community, adding that he plays football for Worcester Raiders and has been called to play at West Bromwich Albion’s youth academy.

“He’s a normal boy, he plays football five days a week, once a week he rides his bike with his friends. But he is not out on the streets, he knows to keep away from boys that smoke and drink.”

Miss Santos said she and her other children intended to join Vanylson at St Paul’s – which they have been attending for years – later on the day in question. The teen had gone there early to help out.

The Worcester News understands that police felt Vanylson was acting suspiciously because he appeared to be hiding from officers and refusing to stop when asked to do so.

Inspector David Troth said: "Police were patrolling on St Paul’s Street in Worcester on Sunday morning when they saw a member of the public acting suspiciously.

"Officers approached the individual to begin a stop and search due to both their behavior and concerns about drug dealing in the local area.

"Shortly afterwards, officers were made aware the individual had legitimate reason for being in the area and determined that no offences had taken place and grounds to continue with any subsequent search no longer existed.

“As such, the search was not conducted.”

The inspector went on to say: "The primary purpose of stop and search powers is to enable officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals without exercising their power of arrest.

"Stop and search remains a legitimate way for police officers to prevent crime but we acknowledge that it must be used sensitively and appropriately.

"West Mercia Police is committed to protecting all members of our communities from harm and we aim to treat everyone fairly and with respect."