Thursday, March 11, 2010

The UK's racist police

The UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission tells us what we already know: UK police are racist, and use "stop and search" powers disproportionately against non-whites:

For some forces the "disproportionality" is more than 10 times. The report presses the police to defend themselves against the allegation they are breaking the law by highlighting the fact that some forces use the power considerably more than other forces policing the same types of area.

The force identified as the biggest offender and placed under the most pressure by the report is the Metropolitan police, found to be responsible for 120,000 "excessive" stops against those from ethnic minority backgrounds in 2008/9.

A comparison of how frequently the power is used found that the Met uses it up to five times as much as other forces policing urban areas.

The Met carries out 71 stops for every 1,000 people, but the West Midlands force, policing areas with similar issues, carries out just 13 stops per 1,000.

Broken down by race, in one year the Met stopped 195 per 1,000 Afro-Caribbean people, and 78 per 1,000 Asian people. The figure for white people is 49.

What those last figures mean is that being stopped and searched by police is a rare experience for white people. For Afro-Caribbeans, it is pervasive. If it hasn't happened to them, it has happened to their friends, usually for no reason other than being the wrong colour. Similar abuse of similar powers was a cause of serious rioting in the 1980's, which is why they were repealed. Current abuse is poisoning relations with ethnic communities, and if continued could lead to the same outcome.

The EHRC wants the practice of racial stop and searches to stop. But knowing the UK police, they'll just conduct unreasonable and unlawful searches of other people to balance the statistics instead...