New figures have exposed the reality of the Metropolitan Police’s stop and search policy. Black people are now even more likely to be disproportionately targeted by police officers using stop and search powers in London than in previous years.
Figures published by the Guardian show that in 2018 Black people were 4.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white peers. This has increased significantly over the previous four years. In 2014, Black people were 2.6 times more likely to face being stopped and searched.
And it further highlighted the fact that searches on Black people are less likely to find evidence of wrongdoing or lead to an arrest.
Unsurprisingly, the new figures have led to the Met facing criticism.
Green Party peer Jenny Jones condemned the stop and search policy. She argued it is based on “racial profiling” and that it ‘alienates communities’:
— Jenny Jones (@GreenJennyJones) January 26, 2019
Meanwhile, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pinpointed the fact that “root causes” need addressing rather than ‘disproportionate’ use of stop and search:
Evidenced based stop and search can be useful in fighting crime, but data shows "police are not just stopping black people more disproportionately, but are less likely to detect crime when they do"
We need to find the root cause and long-term solutions.https://t.co/CytIfKypEn
— Diane Abbott (@HackneyAbbott) January 26, 2019
And speaking to the Guardian, Labour MP David Lammy said:
Stop and search disproportionately and unfairly targets young black men. It destroys trust between police and the communities they serve.
Stop and search is consistently ineffective at reducing violent crime and reliance on it gets in the way of long-term solutions to address its root problems.
These responses join the chorus of criticism of the stop and search policy. And pressure has been mounting on the police to change tack. This erupted earlier this year when Nish Kumar slammed the policy in a heated exchange on Question Time.
This isn’t the first time the Met has come under fire this year for racial profiling. Earlier in January, The Canary reported on the excessive number of strip searches used in custody.
As with stop and searches, these are disproportionately used against Black and Minority Ethnic people. And it has led to allegations of institutional racism.
The Met responded to the figures, telling the Guardian:
We are convinced that stop and search is an effective tactic in preventing and detecting crime… Over 4,200 weapons were also taken off the streets last year as a direct result of stop and searches.
It also stated:
The Met has seen an increase in the use of the tactic over the last year particularly within the last six months, largely due to the increase in street violence and related drug crime.
Crime is not proportionate and the root causes are complex. Knife crime and street violence disproportionately affects boys and young men, particularly of African-Caribbean heritage both in terms of victims and perpetrators.
In an ill-timed tweet, the Met celebrated stop and search on the day the figures were revealed:
— MetTaskforce (@MetTaskforce) January 26, 2019
The police were able to post an image of weapons they found through searches in this instance. However, this is an exception rather than the norm. Only 21% of searches for weapons on white people lead to an arrest and the figure is lower – at 16% – for searches on Black people.
Not all of the police echoed the support for stop and search though. Tola Munro, president of the National Black Police Association spoke out against his peers. He slammed what he described as “systemic racial profiling” and told the Guardian:
It is no excuse to suggest that weapons or drugs are more likely to be found on black and Asian people. Even if there were that does not excuse this disproportionality – it’s not unconscious, it’s systemic racial profiling.
The evidence is mounting against the stop and search policy. It’s been found to be both racist and ineffective. It’s high time it was scrapped.
Featured image via Emily Apple
- Support Netpol who work to monitor the police.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?