Met Police bans stop and search monitoring groups from viewing body-worn video footage over ‘GDPR’
- Credit: MPS
Community groups have criticised police for scrapping monthly sessions where they watch body-worn video footage of stop and searches.
Stop and search community monitoring groups (CMGs), which are backed by The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), would visit police stations once a month to see footage, to ensure good practice was followed.
But Scotland Yard decided to "discontinue" these sessions at the end of October, citing legal responsibilities to safeguards people's rights under the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
On Monday Cdr Jane Connors, the Met's lead for stop and search, chaired a meeting with a number of CMG chairs to discuss a way forward.
Katrina Ffrench, chief exec of charity StopWatch, who previously chaired Islington's monitoring group, told the Gazette: "It means scrutiny panels don't have the tools to ensure or instil confidence in the police because they can't see what they're doing.
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"Anyone can write anything on paper, no one is going to say: 'I stopped him because he is black', but being able to see the body worn video cameras means there's transparency about what happened in that incident."
CMGs claim the Met's decision is a disproportionate response, and says alternative practices, such as redacting data from videos instead, have not been properly considered.
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It's argued that blurring and or redacting images and video is easy to do, and that any additional cost would outweighed by the public interest of scrutiny.
Katrina's comments come as stop and search statistics obtained by this paper show Black African, Caribbean and Black British people have been stopped and searched nearly as many times as "white northern and southern Europeans" in Islington since January 2016.
That is despite the fact Islington's Black population is estimated at 12 per cent, whereas the white population is about 74pc.
A Met Police spokesperson said: "Whilst we acknowledge the benefits of BWV, we have to observe our legal responsibilities to safeguard the rights of individuals.
"The MPS values the work of CMGs, and we are committed to working with our community groups, MOPAC and other partners to explore ways of showing BWV as part of stop and search scrutiny."