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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Stop-and-search 'racism' must end
Police stop-and-search a suspect
Black people are more likely to be stopped than white people
Police chiefs in London are being told their controversial stop-and-search tactics are racist.

A report by the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) claims the practice is "influenced by racial bias".

It said black people were four times more likely to be stopped than white people and urged work with communities for a more "intelligence led approach".

The force said officers were concerned about "disproportionality" but backed stop-and-search as an important tactic.

The report recommends that the Met's Commissioner Sir John Stevens publicly acknowledges "that if racial bias exists in the use of stop-and-search powers, he gives a commitment that the practice will be eliminated".

We are an interventionist police service
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Carole Howlett

The scrutiny panel review took evidence from, among others, the Met, community groups, and the Commission for Racial Equality.

Panel chairwoman Cecile Wright said: "We concluded the negative and disproportionate impact of the present stop-and-search rates couldn't be tolerated in London.

"The cost of current practice, both in police and community relations and resources, is simply too great.

"It is imperative that swift and effective implementation of the actions we proposed be taken."

According to the report, the stop-and-search rates of black people in London increased by 30% between 2001 and 2002.

Cecile Wright, chair of Scrutiny panel
Cecile Wright wants swift action to improve stop and search
For Asian people it rose by 41% but for white people it increased by 8%.

The Met told the panel that while it was acknowledged there might be the odd "bad apple", it did not engage in "racial profiling" or treat minorities differently.

The MPA agreed that the force "has made massive efforts and expended considerable resources to ensure a non-discriminatory service".

But it concluded: "The present practice has... created deeper racial tensions and antagonism against the police.

"It has trampled on the rights of too many Londoners. It has cut off valuable sources of community information and criminal intelligence.

'Negative impact'

"The scrutiny panel is forced to conclude by the evidence presented that stop and search practice continues to be influenced by racial bias."

Among the other proposals, it calls on the Home Office to evaluate the effectiveness of stop-and-search.

It also suggests community groups work to inform people of their rights concerning the practice.

In a statement, Scotland Yard said the "negative impact" of stop-and-search had to be recognised and police must work towards preventing it.

But Deputy Assistant Commissioner Carole Howlett said: "We are an interventionist police service. This is something that I believe Londoners want, a police service where they see us taking action out on the streets. Stop-and-search allows us to do this."




SEE ALSO:
Stop-and-search rights promoted
08 Jul 03  |  Manchester
Stop-and-search powers extended
04 Apr 03  |  England


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