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Met Police criticised as stats show stop and searches disproportionately affect black men in Islington - with no further action taken in most cases

PUBLISHED: 09:35 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:14 22 January 2020

Stock image of police carrying out a stop and search. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/ PA

Stock image of police carrying out a stop and search. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/ PA

PA Archive/PA Images

Police stopped and searched 24,971 people in Islington between January 2016 and November - but in more than 70 per cent of cases they took no action.

Figures obtained by the Gazette show these searches led to just 3,800 arrests, while no further action was taken in 17,904 cases.

The data also reflects the reality that Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Officers stopped and searched 9,702 Black people over this period, with no action taken against 7,007, and 1,624 arrests.

By contrast, 11,937 people classed as "white northern and southern European" were searched. Police took no action against 7,888, while 1,706 were arrested. Islington is 48pc white British or Irish, 26pc white other and 12pc Black, African, Caribbean or Black British. That's just under 29,000 people. Last year 3,021 Black people were stopped and searched, with 407 arrested and no action in 2,015 cases.

Whereas, 3,246 white northern and southern Europeans were searched, with 441 arrested.

Campaigners say it's "concerning" that the Black population, at 12 per cent, accumulates a similar number of stop and searches to the white population at 74pc.

The figures do also include people who were searched while travelling through Islington, but don't live in it. Katrina Ffrench, CEO of charity StopWatch, which works to hold police accountable, said: "We are concerned that ethnic disparities continue to increase within stop and search, and we are also still seeing the majority of stops don't result in anything being found.

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"The targeting of young people because of the perception that it's youth violence I think is causing them to feel the police are after them, so they are feeling under-protected.

"Police are missing a trick by using a power that's only there to allay suspicions rather than being posited as a crime reduction tool. It's causing communities to feel more distrust of the police."

Sheri Lawal, chair of Islington's stop and search monitoring group, added: "Unfortunately it's true. We have these conversations and some of the reasons we are given [by police] is the census the population is based on is quite old, it's 2011.

"But, in terms of the figures we're looking at, they are disproportionately towards young black men, especially in the 16-21 bracket."

Referencing the low ratio of searches leading to arrests, she added: "I propose more community policing because it's not fair for these young people getting stopped and searched multiple times. If weapons are found it's different."

A Met Police spokesperson said: "Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Metropolitan Police Service. The most recent MOPAC public attitude survey showed that 83% of Londoners agree that the Police should use stop and search, with 76% of them being confident in our fair use of it.

"Intelligence-led stop and search is a one of a range of tactics used by police to prevent violent crime from taking place. We are driving the number of intelligence-led 'stop and searches', preventing crime, reducing injuries and saving lives. We are totally committed to working with communities across London to improve confidence in the use of stop and search powers.

"In 2018/19 stop and search resulted in more than 4,200 arrests for weapon possession alone. Every one of those weapons seized potentially means one less violent incident, injury or death.

"We acknowledge that stop and search has does cause concern in some communities, however, tragically in the capital, knife crime and street violence disproportionately affects boys and young men, particularly of African-Caribbean heritage both in terms of victims and perpetrators. We will continue to work with Community Monitoring Network's and other stop and search groups to provide transparency and scrutiny on our use of Stop and Search."

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