Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


34.  Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Mayor of London

INTRODUCTION

  1. This short supplementary memorandum follows on from the Mayor of London's original written submission to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into Young Black People and the Criminal Justice System and the oral evidence given to the Committee by Lee Jasper, the Mayor of London's Director for Equalities and Policing. It provides the additional information and statistics, primarily on stop and search, which the Committee requested when Mr Jasper gave oral evidence to the Committee.

  2. As outlined in the Mayor's original written submission, young Black people are overrepresented at all practically all stages of the criminal justice system. Whilst the causes of this overrepresentation are complex, it cannot be wholly explained by the nature of offending by young people, and direct and indirect institutional racism appear to provide at least part of the explanation.

  3. For far too many people, crime and the fear of crime remain part of their daily reality. This is especially true for many Black and minority ethnic people.

  4. In London Black people are more likely than white people to be victims of crime, especially serious crime. Whilst the causes of this are complex—often rooted in deprivation and poverty—the figures are stark. Taken as a whole, Black people in London are 10 times more likely than white people to be victims of a racist attack, seven times more likely to be homicide victims, three times more likely to be domestic violence victims, three times more likely to be raped, 2.6 times more likely to suffer violent crime and 1.6 times more likely to be victims of robbery.

  5. It is also sadly true that fear of discrimination by criminal justice agencies appears to remain part of daily life for too many Londoners. A quarter of a century on from the Brixton riots and the subsequent Scarman report which was critical of the use of stop and search by the police, we are still not getting it right.

  6. Every day in London there are close to 1,000 people stopped and searched by the Police. Of these—based on figures from April to October 2006—90% are stopped and searched under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), 7% under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act and 3% under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

STOP AND SEARCHES—POLICE AND CRIMINAL EVIDENCE ACT 1994

  7. The total number of stop and searches conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) under PACE between 1999-2000 and 2005-06 increased from 60% from 177,935 to 284,875 during this six-year period.

  8. There was a dramatic increase in the use of PACE stop and searches of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people. Whilst increases were recorded for people from each BME group, the biggest proportionate increases were of people who the police defined as Arabic or other North African—there was an increase in the use of stop and search of over 200% in six years for this group. This was followed by Chinese, Japanese or Other South East Asian (up 172%), Black people (115%) and Asian people (113%).

  9. In stark contrast, the number of stop and searches of White North Europeans increased at a much slower rate of 25%.

  10. All of this has led to a situation where Black people in London are now five times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, and Asians almost twice as likely to be stopped and searched under PACE as white people (1.9 times).

  11. Yet despite this, people from BME groups are barely any more likely to be arrested following a stop and search than white people are, inevitably prompting the question of why exactly are BME people stopped and searched more than their white counterparts under PACE.

  12. The relatively low arrest rate (13.1% for Black people in 2005-06) and the large number of BME people stopped and searched under this power seems to suggest that police powers are still not always being used in a targeted, intelligence-led way. This is concerning not only because it risks community safety due to the opportunity cost of police time on wasted stop and searches of BME people, but because it also risks further alienating people from BME communities.

  13. Londoners from BME communities are also disproportionately likely to be stopped and searched under anti-terror legislation.

  14. Since 2001-02 the number of stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 has increased eight-fold to over 22,000 a year. Once again, as with PACE stop and searches, it is Black, Asian and other BME groups who are disproportionately affected. Whereas the amount of white people stopped and searched during this period increased six-fold, there was a ten-fold increase in the number of Asian people stopped and searched and an eleven-fold increase in the number of Black people stopped and searched.

  15. Yet just 2% of those stopped and searched are arrested—once again demonstrating that the police are simply stopping and searching far too many people, and especially far too many innocent BME Londoners.

  16. It is a similar picture too for Stop and Searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

  17. The usage of such stop and searches has more than doubled in the last six years, with increases particularly magnified amongst BME communities.

  18. Black people in London are now 11 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched under Section 60 powers—powers which let us not forget are only meant to be used if police believe there is a serious risk of violence, and which were introduced amid public concern about football hooliganism and outdoor raves in the mid-1990s.

  19. The statistical evidence regarding the use of stop and search powers in London sadly appear to be consistent with the contention that there is racial and ethnic disproportionality in their exercise and that this has become more of a problem since 2000.

  20. This reinforces the belief that this is resulting in the criminalisation of entire communities. It also represents a waste of precious police resources. And in the context of anti-terrorism activity, disproportionate and ill-judged use of stop and search risks being fatally counter-productive if it alienates the very communities whose cooperation the police so desperately needs.

December 2006





 
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