Stop-and-searches have a documented history of being used disproportionately against black populations in London since the ‘Sus Laws’ of the 1800’s.
Unfortunately, despite multiple objective studies (including the government’s own most recent data) showing that this practice still continues without any relation to actual criminality rates and causing intense distrust between the police and BBRG groups, the police show no signs of changing their tactics.
Recently, the actions of the police when they came into contact with members of the 4Front community group illustrated 3 main issues of police conduct in black areas of London all over again.
- On Friday 7 August 2020 the police used aggressive stop-and-search tactics against a 14 year-old boy (who had reportedly been victim to illegal searches prior to this event). Their reported reasoning was that they had “smelled cannabis” and “drugs had been found nearby”.
Yet, the “smell of cannabis” has been questioned as a grounds for a stop-and-search for years by the media, NGOs and even the College of Policing. It is widely acknowledged to be inadequate and does not correlate with an increased chance of actually finding cannabis during a search.
- When members of a community group objected to the search and asked the police to notify the boy’s mother before they took him to the station, the police responded by bringing in several vans full of officers and forcibly removing community members.
Yet, the police are supposed to be trained to use deescalation and communication to resolve conflict situations without using force.
- Finally, they arrested two members of the community group in the process of arresting this 14 year-old boy. This group, and the members in question, offered personal support to youth in the area; a practice which is well-documented to assist youth development and reduce crime.
Yet, police are supposed to be committed to community policing, to make and maintain connections with their locality.
This case is another illustration of the police willingly using damaging and negative tactics in black areas.