Socialist Worker

Racist stop and search is on the rise

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2286

Black people are now 30 times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched by police, according to new analysis.

This figure is a dramatic rise—just 12 months earlier it had been 26 times more likely.

In 2009 black people were 10.7 times more likely to be searched under the same power.

When two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers were jailed the police were quick to say that “institutional racism” was no longer a problem.

Mishandling

They claim that things are completely different today compared to their racist mishandling of the investigation into Stephen’s murder.

But these figures expose the continuing racism within the police.

Stop and search is carried out under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

It gives police the power to search people on the basis of reasonable suspicion—but its use has always been racist.

It has taken on the role of the hated sus (“suspected person”) law that police used to harass black people during the 1970s and 1980s.

Then, as now, the use of the powers sparked anger and riots.

Even the Independent Police Complaints Commission has described stop and search as antagonistic and “highly intrusive”.

Record

Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe claims to want to reduce stop and search. But his record speaks volumes. He coined the phrase “total policing” to describe a method of dealing with protests.

He has sanctioned the use of rubber bullets against demonstrators and rioters.

And after he became chief constable of Merseyside Police in 2004, the annual rate of stop and search rose from 1,389 to 23,138 within five years.

Hogan-Howe has put Operation Trident in charge of a new “teenage anti-gang” initiative in London.

The initiative is allegedly to help give young people a way out of gangs. But Trident was specifically set up to target “gun related murders within the black community”.

And officers from Trident shot and killed Mark Duggan in Tottenham in August last year. Anger at Mark’s death and police racism led directly into the riots.

But Hogan-Howe has the establishment behind him. David Cameron blamed the summer riots, which erupted after Mark Duggan was killed, on gangs.

However, detailed studies of those who took part show that just 19 percent of those arrested in London were connected to gangs. This dropped to 13 percent elsewhere.

The ruling class is keen to use rising unemployment and the cuts to scapegoat the most marginalised people yet further.

The analysis was carried out by the London School of Economics and the Open Society Justice Initiative


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