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Tuesday, February 23, 1999 Published at 14:20 GMT

Rough treatment from long arm of the law

Black and Asian youths often feel they have been badly treated by the long arm of the law.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
The figures appear to agree.

According to the 1996 British Crime Survey, 14% of Afro-Caribbeans had been stopped by police more than once, compared with only 5% of whites.

The most frequent reason given for stops was to search for stolen property. In London, Hertfordshire and the Thames Valley, police searching for drugs was the most common reason and Asians were most likely to be pulled over on suspicion.

The Small family, from Handsworth in Birmingham, want to see better relations between the police and the black community
In north London, Irish people were twice as likely to be stopped by police than non-Irish citizens.

The Commission for Racial Equality, quoting research by Phillips & Brown, said 46% of all those arrested for robbery were black - compared with 42% who were white.

[ image: Sir Paul Condon...blamed young blacks for muggings in the capital]
Sir Paul Condon...blamed young blacks for muggings in the capital
It was against this background that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon made his controversial statement that young black men were responsible for the majority of London's street muggings.

In the same Phillips & Brown survey they found blacks and Asians were arrested on weaker evidence than that used to arrest white suspects.

Insufficient evidence

While 63% of arrests involving whites were supported by sufficient evidence to arrest, the ratio slipped to 56% for black arrests and 52% in the case of Asians.

Carl Josephs, from Birmingham, has been stopped 34 times by the police

  • One in five black defendants walked free before the case reached trial - usually because of insufficient evidence - compared with 12% of whites.

  • Fear of the police also appears to have bred suspicion, with one in five blacks exerting the right to silence, compared with 13% of whites and 8% of Asians.

    Black and Asian victims of crime are also less impressed by the performance of the police.

  • Forty-eight per cent of Afro-Caribbean victims were dissatisfied with the police's response, compared with 35% of whites.

  • Black people in Greater Manchester are four times more likely than whites to be stopped by the police.

    [ image: Wayne Douglas...died in custody after a stop and search]
    Wayne Douglas...died in custody after a stop and search

  • Asian motorists in the West Midlands are twice as likely to be subjected to a stop and search than their white counterparts.

  • Last year in the West Midlands 49 people complained about racial mistreatment at the hands of the police.

    'Overt racism'

    [ image: David Wilmot:
    David Wilmot: "Yes, we're racist"
    Greater Manchester Police's Chief Constable David Wilmot, caused an uproar in October when he admitted his force had "overt" and "internalised" racism.

    But Superintendent Kevin Hart, also from Manchester, says black people are more likely to be arrested because they are 16 times more likely to be excluded from school and are over-represented among the unemployed and homeless. This leaves them on the street and at a loose end more than their white peers.

    The scope for problems between minority groups and the police is obviously enormous, and has led to a widely-held perception, that UK police forces are racist.

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