Month: May 2008

Mayor’s commitment to increased Stop & Search is ‘ill-considered and gung-ho’


Boris Johnson’s support of plans to increase police stop and search powers is “ill-considered and gung-ho” according to east London anti-racist organisation Newham Monitoring Project (NMP).

Whilst NMP welcomes GLA commitment to finding new ways to address gun and knife crime, it questions why the Mayor is not seeking to address the continued failure of controversial stop and search powers to effectively tackle crime.

A spokesperson for NMP today said:

“If Boris Johnson wishes to address gun and knife crime, he needs to first carefully examine why current police powers, which are some of the toughest in Europe, are failing to deal with this issue effectively. If the police do not have to apply reasonable suspicion, what grounds they will use to determine who they stop and search? Selecting individuals based on appearance and ethnicity is fundamentally flawed, will criminalise and alienate communities and is ultimately likely to fail like the hated Sus laws that were abolished in the 1980’s.

If the Mayor wishes to honour his election pledges he must not rush to try and impress voters in his first few weeks with an attempt at quick fix solutions and must address the underlying problems of community tensions with the police, particularly around racial profiling.

Black people continue to be 7 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched and Asians twice as likely.* Statistics relating to prosecutions from stop and search continually demonstrate it is not an effective tool in tackling crime, particularly compared to intelligence-based policing. There is no evidence that extending these powers will make any positive difference or that the wider public will be any safer.

Our experience of working with young people over the past 25 years is that if you are a young black male you are likely to find yourself repeatedly stopped by the police when you are simply going about your day. Many of the people we talk to have been stopped in excess 20 times without any real justification and it has not led to any charges or prosecutions; surely this is hours of wasted police time. We have always argued that intelligence-based policing alongside real dialogue and engagement with communities is the best approach to building trust and addressing complex issues, whether that be gun and knife crime or tackling terrorism. We call on the Mayor to demonstrate his commitment to tackling crime by meeting with us and the local youth and community groups we work with to discuss and learn about the real experience and suggestions of Londoners in relation to this issue.”

* Stop and search figures from Ministry of Justice Data for 2006, released Oct 2007.

Notes for Editors:

Newham Monitoring Project, established in 1980, is an independent community-based organisation which supports people experiencing racial harassment and /or discrimination from statutory organisations. It is a leading campaigning voice around issues of racism/policing, best known for its work with the families of Stephen Lawrence, Jean Charles de Menezes and the Forest Gate terror-raid families.