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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 10:57 GMT
Black editor backs stop and search
Black people were more likely to be searched
A dramatic rise in gun crime can only be contained by the police increasing their use of stop and search, the editor of Britain's leading black newspaper has claimed.

Mike Best, editor of The Voice, said the concerns felt by many black people about the practice were outweighed by figures showing that shootings are at an all time high in London and other British cities.

He told the BBC: "I think most people would prefer not to be stopped and searched, but I think the increasing crime is warranting that and the majority of people who have nothing to hide won't mind very much."

Stop and search was scaled back when the Macpherson Report into the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence found that police were institutionally racist.

'Frustration'

Mr Best said he supported stop and search despite the finding it was five time more likely to be used against black people than white people.

The Voice editor Mike Best
Mike Best wants more stop and searches
He said police had moved away from the "unprofessional" standards of the past and the tactic could now be used more sensitively.

"Stop and search really, we thought, mainly referred to stopping of black people. It has to be across the board, whether they are Asians, white, whatever," Mr Best added.

"It must not be seen as just black people - this whole myth that black people commit the major crimes - that's not true."

Mr Best said the parents of many of those killed held the view that if their sons had been stopped and searched they would still be alive, even if they were in prison.

'Frustration'

Mr Best's comments may cause concern among some in the black community and were not supported by Lee Jasper, London Mayor Ken Livingstone's adviser on police matters.


I don't think it would make a difference to bring in indiscriminate stop and search

Met' Police Commander Bob Quick
Mr Jasper said: "I understand the frustration that some people have in relation to tackling this crime but again, it needs to be intelligence led in order to be effective."

Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Quick also questioned the value of increasing the number of stop and searches carried out by officers.

He said: "I don't think it would make a difference to bring in indiscriminate stop and search.

"In the Met' and the service more generally we are in favour of targeted stop and search which is intelligence based - which is very much aimed at stopping the right people that we suspect carry weapons or firearms."

'Lawless'

Last week Hackney MP Diane Abbott told the House of Commons prison sentences must be increased for people convicted of gun crime.

Ms Abbott said London is suffering from a "lawless gun culture" and people living in the city are becoming increasingly frightened they will become a victim.

Last year in London alone there were 21 "black on black" gun murders, 67 attempted murders and a further 80 shootings resulting in minor injury or criminal damage.

The number of armed robberies rose to 776 from 500 the previous year and reports suggest guns are now available in the capital for as little as 200.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Opinions are still divided in Britains black communities"
Commander Bob Quick, Metropolitan Police
"We are in favour of targeted stop and search"
Mike Best, The Voice
"Stop and search should be across the board"

Click here to go to London

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Stop & Search
Should random searches be increased?
See also:

04 Jan 02 | UK
A country in the crosshairs
01 Mar 02 | England
London's 'lawless gun culture'
18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
New row over stop and search
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