STOP! [Stop & Search review]

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The Home Secretary has announced a long overdue consultation on stop and search powers over fears of racial profiling increase. 

The Home Sec told MPs that black people were still seven times more likely to be searched on the street than white people.

She added: “We’ve all been told stories by constituents and members of the public about what it’s like to be a young, law-abiding black man who has been stopped and searched by the police on more than one occasion,” the home secretary told MPs.

“If anybody thinks that it’s sustainable to allow that to continue, with all its consequences for public confidence in the police,they need to think again,” she said, adding that everybody in policing had a duty to ensure that nobody was ever stopped on the basis of their skin colour.

Now, you’ve probably learnt by now that I trust very little the government says without independent research. I therefore attach at the end of this blog some graphs relating to stop and searches carried out under the relevant sections of PACE 1984.

Last year Police forces were up to 28 times more likely to use stop-and-search powers against black people than white people and may be breaking the law, according to research carried out by Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).  The figures from EHRC show how often black Britons experience stop and search through section 60 alone and they found that in 2008-09, the Met stopped 68 out of every 1,000 black people in its area. This fell to 32.8 per 1,000 by 2010-11. In the rest of England, the figure was down to 1.2 stops per 1,000 black people by 2010-11.

This is shameful racial profiling at it’s worst.

The Daily Express are today arguing that “while stop and search may not be the answer, it is an answer to street crime. And since the police launched a special initiative against gangs, youth violence is down by 30 per cent. The statistics show that black people are indeed seven times more likely to be searched than whites. But while that may seem like outrageous discrimination it is no such thing. In much of Britain there is little street crime. So rather than look at stop and search figures across the country we should focus on where crimes are committed”.

Eh, little street crime? I think most of us, Londoners especially, would actually question that. There is hardly a day goes by when we don’t read a headline about someone being stabbed or attacked by gangs. Lets ask this, do you feel safe walking through East London in the dark and on your own? Do you not see a gang and walk a little faster? Don’t get me wrong, I do agree strongly that “the thugs who think they rule the streets – and in many areas actually do – should not be able to swagger along with impunity” and that stop and search does work to a great extent but I question where the Daily Express’ figures have come from.

There has also been debate as to whether racial profiling in regards to stop and search contributed to the 2011 riots, see http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/274239/reading-the-riots.pdf (disclaimer: I do not own this piece of work, all writings and conclusions made in the document belong to the author. No copyright intended. I do not own the rights to this piece of work).

The matter of fact is simple; the police are not supposed to stop and search people for the colour of their skin, what they are wearing, what they look like, etc but it, unfortunately, seems that some still have archaic stereotypical views of certain segments of society. Despite what the Daily Express is arguing. You may disagree, but the figures do not lie, although you may not view this as big problem. 

The consultation is only open until 13th August 2013- so please do complete here; https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/stop-and-search 

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