London mayor targets racial discrimination in city's police

by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 13 November 2020 16:59 GMT

A police officer walks at the scene after a car crash incident outside Edmonton Police Station, in Enfield north London, Britain, November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Black Londoners are more than three times as likely to be stopped and searched by police, official data shows

By Sonia Elks

LONDON, Nov 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - London's police force will boost recruits of Black and minority officers and be subjected to closer public scrutiny, the city's mayor said on Friday as he unveiled plans aimed at tackling complaints of racial discrimination.

Black Londoners are more than three times as likely to be stopped and searched by police, official data shows, and the Met Police has faced increased pressure over such disparities since global protests over racism erupted earlier this year.

Under a strategy laid out by Mayor Sadiq Khan, community groups will help establish a Disproportionality Scrutiny Group tasked with looking at how policing affects different communities, and holding police to account over complaints.

The force will also aim to recruit 40% of new officers from Black and minority communities from 2022 in an effort to diversify police ranks, the report announced, as part of a package of measures agreed with police leaders.

"More must be done – and will be done," Khan said in a statement.

"This starts with involving communities and ensuring they have proper oversight and scrutiny of stop and search, the use of Tasers and the use of force, as well as in the training of new police officers," he added.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that while the force has zero tolerance of racism, it is not free from discrimination.

"We have a lot more to do, and I am excited about leading further change," she said in a statement issued in response to the mayor's plans, adding that the force was increasing its efforts to build trust with Black communities.

The Met was branded "institutionally racist" by an official report following the murder of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1999.

Khan said he recognised the great progress made since then, but more work was still needed to tackle discrimination and build trust.

Black people were 3.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to white people, according to the latest London government data, and seven times more likely to be stopped in searches for weapons or knives.

Khan's plan offers a "good start" in raising the voices of Black Londoners and holding police to account, said Ben Lindsay, chief executive of anti-violence group Power The Fight in a statement released through the mayor's office.

"While the acknowledgement that historic and systemic racism has created a breakdown in trust between the police and Black Londoners is welcome - there is still much to be done," he said.

Related stories:

UK police officers face misconduct probe over stop of two Black athletes

British music stars resurrect Rock Against Racism

Ethnic minorities hold less than 5% of Britain's top jobs

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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