Monday, 23 Nov 2020

London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for police road traffic stop review over racial profiling concerns

The mayor of London has called for an urgent review of police traffic stops to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity.

Sadiq Khan has asked for stop and search samples to be examined in the year-long road pilot scheme as part of a wider plan to address concerns over officer tactics affecting black Londoners, including the use of Tasers.

Mr Khan said despite the city’s diverse, fair and inclusive population, the killing of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests have highlighted a need to improve trust and confidence among the black community with police.

“Through the development of this action plan, we’ve listened and responded to the continued frustrations of black Londoners who are concerned about the disproportionate use of some police powers,” he said.

“It’s simply not right that black Londoners have less trust and confidence in our police service and it’s something I am determined to resolve.”

It follows a string of racial profiling accusations against the Metropolitan Police, including when Labour MP Dawn Butler was stopped by officers in east London in August.

The same force apologised to sprinter Bianca Williams after she and her partner, Portuguese sprinter Ricardo dos Santos, were stopped and handcuffed while their three-month-old son was in the car.

Both incidents were referred to the police watchdog and five officers are being investigated for misconduct over the Williams incident.

Adding to the pressure for institutional change, City Hall figures revealed black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street by police than white people in London and six times more likely to be stopped in their cars.

The mayor said he recognised the progress made by the Met since the force was labelled “institutionally racist” in Sir William Macpherson’s 1999 report, following an inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

However, Mr Khan added: “More must be done – and will be done through this action plan – properly to recognise and address the impact that some police tactics used disproportionately on black people is having.

“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 so they can better understand the trauma that the disproportionate use of police powers can have on black Londoners.”

The Met wants up to 40% of new recruits to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds by 2022 and Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick will reintroduce the London residency criteria for most officers joining the force.

City Hall will fund £1.7m towards recruitment and progression of black officers.

Mr Khan’s plan also aims to ensure officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search a person, with such incidents subjected to “London-wide scrutiny panels”.

Describing the plan, a City Hall source said it was “generational” and “the most significant changes to policing and black communities since the Macpherson report”.

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