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  • Stop and search is back!

    by Sunny
    31st January, 2008 at 3:09 pm    

    Well, not that it went away in the first place.

    David Cameron yesterday justified his plans for much wider use of police stop and search powers, arguing that concerns he was reintroducing a 1980s-style “sus” law were misplaced because the police were no longer so racist.

    Official statistics show that young black and British Asian people are still six times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people.

    The Conservatives’ pledge yesterday to scrap the forms used in every “stop and account” revived memories of “sus” laws under which police needed only an officer’s suspicion of illegal intent to stop and search someone. The widespread use of the laws to deal with street crime notoriously sparked the 1981 Brixton riots. [theguardian]

    One could argue the police aren’t as racist as before, although victims of the high number of deaths in police custody, who just happen to be over-proportionally black, may disagree.

    I think there is an argument to be made in favour of increased stop and search to tackle knife and gun crime, but this is still looking at the symptom (crime) than cause (deprivation). Plus, overwhelmingly white officers are being asked to be suspicious of black kids supposedly carrying knives and brown kids carrying bombs. I’m not sure that some element of racism can be avoided when you’re in that context.

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    Filed in: Current affairs,Race politics

    27 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. faz — on 31st January, 2008 at 4:17 pm  

      ‘Well, not that it went away in the first place.’- thats the point. Black kids 7 more times likely than white to be stopped- and this is while we have this infamous 1 foot long paperwork that the coppers have to fill in.

    2. Leon — on 31st January, 2008 at 4:26 pm  

      If Cameron’s not careful he could come unstuck in the same way that Michael Howard did a couple of years back over stop and search…

    3. Sofia — on 31st January, 2008 at 4:53 pm  

      ok so today when I saw FIVE BLACK MEN being stopped by two stupid community officers, and 2 dodgy looking “female” undercover officers AND two other cops..(ALL OF WHOM ARE WHITE)..IN THE SPACE OF 10 MINUTES…that isn’t racism is it???? i was so fucking angry i felt like walloping them…

    4. Sofia — on 31st January, 2008 at 4:54 pm  

      and if any cops from hillingdon are reading this…sort your coppers out!!!!

    5. Muhamad — on 31st January, 2008 at 9:18 pm  

      City cops can learn a thing or two from country cops. Where I live they call me “sir” everytime I encounter one. They do it instinctually, without thinking of the hands that feed them.

    6. Demon — on 31st January, 2008 at 9:23 pm  

      I’m white and I don’t want to get stopped and searched by the Police anymore than black people do.

      Treating everyone ‘fairly’ in this case means abusing all our rights - not just the rights of the minority.

      I love how self-styled ‘liberals’ think all is right with the world if everyone (regardless of race, colour or creed) gets equally oppressed by the State and its uniformed goons.

    7. septicisle — on 31st January, 2008 at 9:57 pm  

      Demon: I don’t think it’s “liberals” that are proposing this.

    8. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2008 at 10:05 pm  

      Is Operation Trident racist?

    9. Dave S — on 31st January, 2008 at 10:26 pm  

      Demon: Fully agree.

      The issue here is that the entire “Stop and Search” thing is fundamentally oppressive and abusive, and should not be allowed to happen to anybody in the first place, let alone minority groups.

      Septicisle: I don’t think it’s “liberals” proposing this either, but it does appear to be the case that they (as in the Liberal Democrats) don’t ever seem to have any major problem with it as long as everyone is equally oppressed. If they had any guts, they’d reject this whole increasing police power / living in constant fear of terrorism lunacy outright. But they don’t.

      Just like Liberty - always banging on about “criminals and terrorists”. Why not change the bloody record and stop trying to appease the tabloid crowd by playing directly into the authoritarian State’s hands?

      It seems that nobody in the mainstream is prepared to stick their necks out and state that this terrorism thing is a load of crap. Well, I’ve done the maths, and you are statistically more likely to die of a heart attack while on the bog taking a crap than be blown up by a terrorist.

      I am not one bit scared of terrorists - not even remotely - and I live in a city centre and use public transport all the time.

      I have also been mugged twice in my life - both times by gangs of black/mixed race youths. Does that mean I walk in constant fear of mixed race youths? No. What they had in common wasn’t their race - it was that society has almost certainly utterly crapped on them their entire lives, and made them lust after something that seemingly everyone else around them has, and that they will never be able to have - wealth. So they’re getting it in the only way on offer to them, because it’s what they’ve been socially conditioned to want.

      (Still, they were out of luck robbing me - I don’t ever carry more than about fifteen quid and a knackered mobile phone on me!)

    10. douglas clark — on 31st January, 2008 at 10:38 pm  

      Well, guys, I’m not so sure about all of this anymore.

      My son’s pal was murdered, last weekend, with a knife. Apparently, they were both white. Had the police stopped and searched the ignorant little fucker, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened.

      You get only a few lines in the newspaper if it isn’t religious or racist. The fact is, a young kid is dead.

      This is hardly recognised, is it? And yet, a young life is lost to a stupid culture. A culture that thinks knives and guns are fun. Ignorance knows no bounds.

    11. Bert Preast — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:15 pm  

      Sorry for your boy Douglas, hope he’s dealing with it okay.

      But the stop and search is about probabilities, not racism. In Glasgow the majority of knife crime is committed by whites, and they’ll also be the majority subject to stop and search. I don’t believe the police use this as a veiled excuse for racism, they’ll target the groups known as most likely to be tooled up. White boys from ‘nicer’ areas are unlikely to be bothered, those from known gang areas are going to get hassled.

    12. Clairwil — on 31st January, 2008 at 11:39 pm  

      That is horrifying but all too common. Hence why I support stop and search provided it is done with community sensitivities in mind and evidence of disproportionate targeting (taking into account the ethnic make up of the community) is properly dealt with.

      I used to get stopped and searched by the police all the time as an adolescent corner girl. I didn’t like it at all, but I acknowledged that the police had finally worked out that boys tended to get their girlfriends to carry the knives etc in the belief that girls wouldn’t get searched.

      There is an epidemic of knife crime and it cannot be accounted for solely by economic deprivation. We need a better education system including expulsions for disruptive elements who rob working class children of their right to an education, a tweak of of the benefits system, police on the beat, more foster homes and the end of the notion that children are always better off with their natural parents.

      None of the above would entirely solve the problem but would go a long way to reducing it.

    13. marvin — on 1st February, 2008 at 12:48 am  

      We should just let the police do their job. They’re not social services they’re there to protect.

      Many people get shot; London this will be a majority of black on black. So, black leaders are calling for more searches.

      I think black parents want their kids to be searched as opposed to being dead.

      If people are being particularly targeted then that does raise some questions. Dressing, walking and talking like a gangsta who would pop a cap in your ass probably wont help. Some of those imitating their gangsta icons are completely innocent and actually good people. But you cant really blame the cops for going on such appearances at face value….

      It must be frustrating for decent black people who will be stopped regularly, but there needs to be a system in place to help prevent this.

      Generally the police will be able to stop and search you if you look dodgy. Not becaue of skin colour. I don’t think they will be targeting the middle class blacks with their briefcases and suits. Or the kindly spoken youngsters on their way to church.

      I don’t think police have time to target black people for being black people. Not with all their New Labour efficiency targets. They want results…

    14. Clairwil — on 1st February, 2008 at 12:59 am  

      Forgot to say. If you’re up for a pint Friday evening or Saturday afternoon get in touch!

    15. Refresh — on 1st February, 2008 at 1:01 am  


      My sympathies - and hope your son with his friends will be able to work his way through this tragedy. Knowing as much as I can know about his dad, I am sure he will be stronger for it.

      It is quite distressing to see the fear and the difficulties our young people have to face, out there.

      Something has gone horribly wrong.

    16. Dave S — on 1st February, 2008 at 1:34 am  

      Douglas, I’m sorry to hear about your son’s friend, certainly a sad tragedy. I hope your lad is holding up OK.

      Back to the stop and search thing though… I think the problem goes much deeper than anyone in Westminster is prepared to admit. Something has certainly gone badly wrong, but is stopping and searching really going to fix it? I don’t think so.

      Harder questions need to be asked, but I don’t think they will be, because actually sorting out the problem would require a huge overhaul of just about everything around us!

      We live in a world where things like power over other people, intimidation, subjugation, violence, war and so on are largely treated as inevitable, and even sometimes desirable attributes.

      But they are not inevitable - they can all be stopped, if we stop allowing them to happen and reject them outright wherever they occur, and on whatever scale they occur. We must start by changing ourselves, then our communities, and finally the wider world. It is not enough to be passive about it - we must actively stop them from happening.

      Politicians preach against violence and hatred - but look at their own actions! You can’t speak out against guns on one hand, and command an army with the other!

      Is knife and gun crime a cause of the violence in society, or is it a symptom of a fundamentally violent society, from top to bottom?

      I think it is probably a fair bit of both.

      Abolish the war machine, for starters! Yes, I am talking about seriously dismantling the army, the navy, the air force, the arms manufacturers, the missile silos - the whole military. Do we not have more worthy things to use the Earth’s resources for?

      Until we end the violence that our society carries out on other societies and the planet itself, how can we ever expect to end the violence that exists within our society?

      The problem is massive, and humanity needs a big rethink… about EVERYTHING.

      We need to get to know and understand ourselves better, in order that we can get to know and understand other people better too.

      From this common understanding would come togetherness. My blood relationship to you is of no consequence, because as far as I am concerned, we are already the same family: the human family.

      If I harm you, I am really harming myself. If I harm the Earth, I am really harming myself.

      This approach needs to be applied to just about everything, because for peace to flourish, we have to first make peace with ourselves.

      That sort of solution is never going to come from a politician, because it would mean the dismantling of just about everything they stand for.

      So that’s my solution to the symptomatic problems of knife crime, gun crime and so on. Stop all the bullshit, and get SERIOUS about creating peace!

    17. marvin — on 1st February, 2008 at 1:46 am  

      Douglas, thats a tragedy. Wishes go out to his family and friends. I hope they catch the bastards.


      Dave S, yeah, peace and love, Man. If only our governments stopped invading countries we would live in a utopia man… Sorry mate but your comment is like, way out there :)

      What you suggest is never, ever, going to happen or be seriously contemplated. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no violence? Of course it would. But that is utterly impossible. There’s 6 billion on the planet..

      Sorry to be so negative about it, but I don’t think lamenting about world peace is really going to help matters. Though I’ll defo have some of what you’re smoking ;)

      And anyway, the war on Iraq has very little to do with kids trying to emulate their gangsta hip-hop icons from America, who carry guns and shoot disrespecters…

    18. Dave S — on 1st February, 2008 at 2:10 am  

      Marvin - in terms of what we can achieve as humans, anything can happen if enough people want it badly enough.

      Outside of the laws of physics, who decides what is impossible? You do, and I do, and everybody does. That you have decided peace is impossible is one of the reasons it will not happen.

      Therefore, I respectfully suggest you decide that it IS possible, and try to work out how you can play your part in making it a reality, in whatever way you can.

      To coin an appropriate Gandhi quote (not that I’m a massive follower of his, really), it was something like: “Anybody who believes they are too small to make a difference has obviously never spent a night in a tent with a mosquito.”

      I am not smoking anything. I’m not religious in any way. I’m an out-and-out atheist. I don’t call myself a pacifist. I don’t even look like a hippy (though I do eat lentils quite often, but that’s because they taste good).

      I do believe there is a time for violence, but that time is when we are left with no other choice, and it is to be directed at tearing down the institutions that make sure that violence is “inevitable”.

      Violence is not inevitable. War is not inevitable. We are sentient beings with the ability to override our instincts, and make a better choice. Everybody and anybody can do this - you just have to decide that it IS possible and believe in yourself and other people, nothing more.

      As to the gangsta hip-hop crowd… look at what they are searching for. It’s essentially capitalist urges unable to be fulfilled “legitimately”, coupled with a section of society that has historically been stomped repeatedly under the boots of those with power and control.

      The symptoms of systematic exploitation on a massive scale, now inverted to become a hyper version of it’s own former oppressors.

      Fix that problem! Stop exerting power and control, and acquiring mountains of riches. Show that they are not only not desirable, but damaging to every single person alive - both oppressed, and oppressor alike.

      Those kids emulating gangsta rappers are expressing themselves in a destructive way, because they have never been given the means or the opportunity to fully explore and understand themselves, or the causes of their frustration.

      Sure, they have been shown bad examples, but those bad examples are coming from a whole lot of directions - not just from the 50 Cents of the world, but also from politicians, corporate bosses, the police, the army, you name it.

      Until we actively resist violence in all shapes and forms, it will continue to happen. The first step in that is ceasing all oppression ourselves.

    19. douglas clark — on 1st February, 2008 at 6:58 am  

      Thanks to all of you for your kindness. I did not, personally know this kid, so for me, it would have been just another incomprehensible murder, had it not been for my sons’ friendship with the victim.

      My point, to my son, is that this ridiculous ‘culture’ is, in obvious point of fact, deadly. Perhaps to him, too. That I could not handle.

      So, Clairwil, where? When I follow your link, I get downtown Chicago.

    20. Tu S. Tin — on 1st February, 2008 at 7:09 am  

      I am curious why you chose to add an out dated link to this post? The entire 2007 report is avalible online here…

      the report shows fatalities fell to 83…. were 86% white …. and not many were actual “in police custody”


      so what was your motive in linking to it?
      ….. again you have made false statements, why?

    21. douglas clark — on 1st February, 2008 at 7:21 am  

      Oh, and he’s been caught. According to the press, he’s fourteen years old. That is what we are facing.

      Dunno what to think about this, to be honest.

    22. Sofia — on 1st February, 2008 at 10:15 am  

      Douglas, I felt so sad reading the article about your son’s friend…
      I do think there is a need for stop and search, but what I was witness to yesterday, was not about probabilities, it was about the colour of the boys’ skin…where I live, there are lots of white thugs, and lots of black thugs…yet I only saw black youngsters and men being stopped. I have also been the victim of an attempted mugging by a black man..he punched me in the face and then walked off…I also then followed him and got him arrested…does that mean i’m afraid of black…i’m afraid of anyone regardless of their colour or appearance that makes me feel threatened and quite frankly what I saw yesterday made me sick and angry..

    23. sonia — on 1st February, 2008 at 11:04 am  

      oh douglas, i’m so sorry to hear that, how awful, i hope your son is okay and i cant imagine what his friend’s parents must be going through now.

    24. sonia — on 1st February, 2008 at 11:32 am  

      dave s - in no. 16 - as you say..

      Politicians preach against violence and hatred - but look at their own actions! You can’t speak out against guns on one hand, and command an army with the other!

      yep, the problems are much deeper than ‘stop and search’.

      are we only worried about stop and search from a colour perspective?

    25. sonia — on 1st February, 2008 at 11:34 am  

      “I’m white and I don’t want to get stopped and searched by the Police anymore than black people do.”


    26. sonia — on 1st February, 2008 at 11:35 am  

      clearly all weed smokers aren’t going to be happy about the stop and search thing, are they!

    27. Jai — on 1st February, 2008 at 12:27 pm  


      I’m very sorry to hear about your son’s friend. Depending on how close they were, this could have a huge impact on your son and will undoubtedly be a “shock of reality” for him; I hope he is managing to cope during what is probably a period of great trauma, confusion and emotional volatility. Stating the obvious, it will also be critical that he does not fall prey to any negative influences during a vulnerable time, especially in relation to the dangers of excessively giving in to understandable feelings of anger, recrimination, revenge etc.

      I do know what it is like to lose a good friend at a relatively young age (although I was a few years older than your son is now), so all I can add is to request that you patiently be a strong source of support and stability for your son at what may obviously be an (potentially protracted) incredibly difficult time for him. He’ll need you to be a good listener (particularly if he needs to vent his feelings of sadness and confusion), someone who is ready to “catch” him if he starts going into too much of a downward spiral, and someone who is a “rock” of understanding, strengh, sensitivity and compassion. I’m assuming he’s already getting this from his mother, but getting all this from his father too will make a huge difference to him, believe me.

      I am glad to hear that the police have caught the murderer so swiftly.

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