Can Stop and Search be Fixed?

  fourm member 14:04 30 Apr 14
Locked

Theresa May has overcome objections from Cameron and announced changes to 'Stop and Search'.

Are these real changes that will remove the flaws or just tinkering at the margins?

  johndrew 14:39 30 Apr 14

One of the problems with Stop & Search is the political aspect and another which may be more important but unquantifiable is the deterrent effect.

The fact that few stops end up with an arrest is to be expected. An impression gained of an individuals' perceived intention is a personal one. As a result an officer may believe a perfectly innocent person is 'up to no good' for the wrong reasons.

However, it has long been recognised that a Police presence deters crime; as a result it is possible that Stop & Search has such an effect which is by its very nature not quantifiable.

Whether any changes will either make the action more acceptable or effective is also unquantifiable at this stage.

  fourm member 15:05 30 Apr 14

'an officer may believe a perfectly innocent person is 'up to no good''

The problem is that all too often that belief is based on skin colour.

  Flak999 15:29 30 Apr 14

fourm member

"The problem is that all too often that belief is based on skin colour."

And there is a perfectly valid reason for that!

  fourm member 19:33 30 Apr 14

Flak999

Do please tell us what that valid reason is.

  morddwyd 19:44 30 Apr 14

It can be fixed easy enough if the Met is fixed.

Like so many other police issues, it is really the met which sets the trend.

They are too big and powerful, a law unto themselves, no pun intended.

They do every clean, decent, conscientious copper in this country, and that means most of them, a vast disservice.

  Flak999 13:22 01 May 14

fourm member

"Do please tell us what that valid reason is."

Oh well, if I must. Here's a scenario for you, It's school chucking out time, two friends are walking home together minding their own business when upon turning a corner they are confronted by a group of half a dozen youths wearing jeans hanging off their backsides, baseball hats with shiny badges on them worn back to front and large puffer jackets, even though its 25 degrees in the shade. This group of colourful characters exuding a palpable sense of menace also happen to be black!

Our two friends are confronted by the group or youths and are told to hand over their mobile phones, a knife is produced and the threat is made clear that unless compliance is immediate violence will ensue. The boys duly are robbed of their possessions and after a couple of slaps for good measure are sent on their way.

Not unnaturally this experience has left them frightened and angry in equal measure, they manage to flag down a passing police car and explain what has happened. Now if you were a police officer being told this story and having listened to the evidence what would be your action? Would you A) Stop and search little white old ladies with a view to catching these muggers? Stop and search little black old ladies, or Chinese chefs or 40 year old lorry drivers, or city currency traders? Or would you B) scour the area in question for groups of black youths dressed in silly clothing and search them for stolen mobile phones and knives?

Now I'm not a police officer myself, but even with my limited knowledge of police work it seems to me to be a bit of a no brainer who I am going to stop and search!

Sir Paul Condon Commissioner of police for the Met said back in 1995 that:

"It is a fact that very many of the perpetrators of mugging are very young black people" - Sir Paul Condon, Metropolitan Police Commissioner, in his letter to 40 mainly black community leaders and MPs at the beginning of July."

He put the level at between 70% to 80%,It was true then, I have no reason to suppose that in London's inner city ghettos the same is not true now! Stop and search serves a purpose, it keeps criminals on their toes and keeps them guessing.

We should most definitely keep it!

  fourm member 14:07 01 May 14

Flak999

What a dumb way to try and defend the indefensible.

Of course, if police are investigating a specific crime they should act on the information available to them. And they mostly do.

Unfortunately, I had to put 'mostly' because there are times when the police will trawl through the black population even when a victim of crime has said their attacker was white.

But, with stop & search, they aren't acting on information about specific crimes. They are trawling based entirely on prejudice.

Around 50% of stops are to search for illegal drugs. White people are almost twice as likely to use drugs as black but black people are six times more likely to be stopped for a drug search than white.

As for Paul Condon, you write 'It was true then' but it wasn't. Condon's figure was an estimate based on data that wasn't made available for scrutiny. He took figures for areas with the highest concentrations of unemployed young blacks and extrapolated them for the whole Met area. There is no accurate data because there is no such offence as 'mugging'.

And Condon was talking about London where it is quite possibly true that most of the street crime is perpetrated by blacks for the simple reason that they form the majority of unemployed poor young people. Go to Newcastle, say, and you have to conclude that mugging was a crime almost exclusively committed by whites.

I had to qualify that as 'quite possibly true' because again the data is unreliable. Blacks are much less likely to report a crime, especially young blacks because they don't expect the police to take them seriously and, with the young, they expect the police to find something to make trouble for them.

And why are young blacks so suspicious of the police? That would be because the police base stop & search on the race of the person.

Theresa May estimated that over one quarter of stops were illegal. It is just a shame that the changes are expected to be implemented voluntarily by the people who have tolerated that situation for so long.

  Flak999 15:01 01 May 14

fourm member

I think I am probably going to rely on what a former commissioner of police for the met says rather than you to be honest!

But even you can admit, that in London "it is quite possibly true that most of the street crime is perpetrated by blacks" Given that I live in Greater London, it is London that concerns me. What happens in Newcastle Birmingham and Glasgow is not really of interest other than for comparison purposes.

Personally I don't care what colour a criminal is, I don't care if the poor darlings have had a hard life and are disadvantaged, I just want them off the streets!

How the police achieve that, is a matter for them.

As for Theresa May, she is just manoeuvring for position with her eye on the leadership election that will follow Cameron's defeat at next years general election. Trying to show the poor downtrodden masses the caring side of the Tory party.

  fourm member 16:40 01 May 14

Flak999

'I think I am probably going to rely on what a former commissioner of police for the met says rather than you to be honest!'

Given that the Met has been called institutionally racist in the past I can understand your preference.

  johndrew 16:49 01 May 14

Theresa May estimated that over one quarter of stops were illegal.

I heard her say this, but have not heard how the figure is justified or know what constitutes an illegal stop. Given the reason to stop a person is the decision of a Police Officer based on what is seen and assessed subjectively, the decision is almost impossible to quantify. For an action to be illegal it must, to my mind, be quantifiable to satisfy a particular Act. Or perhaps, to put it another way, somewhere there is a list of stops clearly demonstrating that Police have broken the Law in some way when carrying out the action? If this is the case then with the numbers involved it would be reasonable to expect some Court or disciplinary actions against some Officers.

Perhaps there is a good legal mind that could clarify this area for all of us.

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