Scanned and fingerprinted


by Sunny
28th February, 2009 at 10:40 am    

“No one community is singled-out or targeted, criminals come from all backgrounds,” says the Association of Chief Police Officers’ Craig Mackey. Except that:

A disproportionate number of Asian and black people are being stopped by police and fingerprinted using a new mobile scanner, the BBC has learned. Of the 29,000 people stopped, 14% were Asian and 16.5% black despite those ethnic groups representing just 4% and 2% of the population respectively.

Something isn’t quite right here, is it? Meanwhile, the Guardian reports today: Civil servants attacked for using anti-terror laws to spy on public. And Ben Goldacre shows how spying on 60 million people, to identify terrorists, doesn’t stack up. Oh, and some deluded blogger thinks New Labour have an “excellent” record on civil liberties. As long as white middle-class bloggers in pyjamas aren’t affected, it’s all cheddar baby.


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  1. pickles

    New blog post: Scanned and fingerprinted http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/3421




  1. Jeeves — on 28th February, 2009 at 10:50 am  

    Right on! The creeping errosion of civil liberties in this country must be stopped.

    The same tools which are enacted to fight terror are being used to harass dissidents and minorities. If we think what is going on under Labour is bad just imagine what will happen when the Tories get their hands on power?

    We posted last night about the freedom bill proposed by the Lib Dems http://worldismycountry.org/?p=180 there is a link to the petition at the bottom of the post.

  2. So Much For Subtlety — on 28th February, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    Surely the figures that matter are not the percentages of Asians and Blacks in the population. It is the percentage in prison, or at least committing crimes.

    We do not want the police bothering law abiding citizens. We do want them focusing on law breaking citizens.

    Ask yourself, in an ideal world, would you want the police to stop and search criminals and only criminals with 100% accuracy? If so, do you think that this would mean stopping an exact reflection of the general population?

    To quote something ripped off the Black History Month website:

    “There are 2.3 million Black, Asian and Minority Women (BAME) in the UK, making up just under 4% of the total population of the UK. In 2002 BAME women made up less than 8% of the total female population of the UK but accounted for close to 31% of female prisoners. Black women are over-represented in prison. Black female prisoners make 26.4% of female prisoners while black males account for 24% of male prisoners. Black British women in prison make 11.6% compared to only 2% of all British women. British Asian women prisoners make 4% of the female prison population.”

    – Black Women’s Experiences of the Criminal Justice system

    Now perhaps that is just racism. Or perhaps criminal behaviour is not uniform across the population. It doesn’t sound like the police are singling out people unreasonably.

    Although needless to say the police should not have such powers.

  3. Riz Din — on 28th February, 2009 at 11:49 am  

    I’m not saying nothing is amiss here, but that paragraph shows a woefully inadequate use of the statistics.

    Wouldn’t it be a waste of taxpayer money to apprehend people to the same ethnicity proportions of the population, if a disproportionate number of poor ethnic people are committing crime?

  4. Sunny — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:06 pm  

    Riz, the question is – is this stop and search criminalizing people? If they stopped and searched more whites, they might find a higher proportion of criminals.

  5. Riz Din — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:06 pm  

    To ammend the above, I wonder if we need to account for a ‘reflexive effect’, whereby more monitoring and policing of ethic minorities has led to higher arrests of minorities, which then in turn supports the dataset that lends credibility to the idea that the ethnic minorities need more monitoring because they are the ones committing the crimes. For example, if we only ever policed midgets, then the prisons would be full of midgets, saying we only need to police them on the streets.

    It’s a chicken and the egg problem and I’m pretty confident the effect is small, but it needs to be taking into account, especially if it is perceived that racism trends have improved over the years, as this would mean simply using the pool of people prisoners gives a false reading and potential over policing of minorities.

    Blasted feedback loops.

  6. Riz Din — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:07 pm  

    snap!

  7. Sunny — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:08 pm  

    Exactly riz

  8. Riz Din — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:08 pm  

    Ayn Rand – The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

  9. So Much For Subtlety — on 28th February, 2009 at 12:10 pm  

    Sunny – “the question is – is this stop and search criminalizing people? If they stopped and searched more whites, they might find a higher proportion of criminals.”

    They might, but it is not likely. After all BMEs are grossly over-represented in prison. More so than in these stop and search figures. To get there they have to go to trial. That is a high bar to jump. Perhaps the police are all racists, but all jurors too? And judges? I don’t think so.

    Riz Din – “For example, if we only ever policed midgets, then the prisons would be full of midgets, saying we only need to police them on the streets.”

    Well I expect that people’s views on who needs to be “policed” has more to do with their experience of crime. We could ask people how often they have been mugged by midgets, but somehow I don’t think it would be all that often.

  10. Golam Murtaza — on 28th February, 2009 at 1:55 pm  

    This is JUST an idea. I wondered, do police use the stop and search method especially heavily in urban areas because crime is particularly prevalent in towns and cities? And then if so, maybe the number of black and asian people being stopped and searched is consistently disproportionately high because they happen to be so heavily concentrated in urban areas? Any thoughts?

  11. damon — on 28th February, 2009 at 1:58 pm  

    ”Of the 29,000 people stopped, 14% were Asian and 16.5% black despite those ethnic groups representing just 4% and 2% of the population respectively”.

    Sorry if I am missing something (I probably am) but aren’t these national statistics flawed because they are equating inner city English cities with places in the rural counties? Towns like Ludlow and Shrewsbury obviously have a whole different set of circumstances than the inner city crime hotspots of the UK.
    Is it all down to racism?

  12. Shamit — on 28th February, 2009 at 2:05 pm  

    Wow. Let me see if I got it right — Mr. Not so subtle here is justifying that because there is a higher proportion of BME prisoners then it is alright for the police to stop and search more BME people.

    So because A is black or brown and a criminal therefore Dr. C another BME individual not a criminal should find it okay to be stopped and harrassed by the police. Is that the argument? if it is its sad.

    Now, what about the statistice of stop and search vs conviction. I think its pretty low so you have to start wondering what level of reasonable suspicion are the police using when they choose their stop and search suspect?

    When the MET has not really shown itself to be beyond racism in many instances, could anyone be surprised that there is lack of confidence among citizens?

  13. cjcjc — on 28th February, 2009 at 3:24 pm  

    Well I don’t think that 80 year-old grannies should be searched at airports in the same proportion as 25 year-old men. Do you?

  14. damon — on 28th February, 2009 at 3:28 pm  

    From Shamit:
    ”When the MET has not really shown itself to be beyond racism in many instances, could anyone be surprised that there is lack of confidence among citizens?”

    Where, or how might it be better is my question.
    I wish it was better than it is (or is reported).

    All kinds of (possibly Dail Mail) stories could be made out of statistics about ”10% of UK prisons being populated by overseas prisoners”

    BBC stories like this:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7059283.stm
    It lends itself to Daily Mail type comment – but is it so far from reality?

  15. So Much For Subtlety — on 28th February, 2009 at 6:08 pm  

    Shamit – “Wow. Let me see if I got it right — Mr. Not so subtle here is justifying that because there is a higher proportion of BME prisoners then it is alright for the police to stop and search more BME people.”

    Well, yes, that is kind of the point isn’t it? Do you think police ought to be stopping people at random? I do not. I don’t like the idea of them stopping anyone at all, but if they are going to, I would prefer them to stop suspected criminals. Suppose they had a magical machine that told them with 100% reliability who was a criminal – wouldn’t that mean they were going to search more BMEs than 80 year old white grandmothers?

    “So because A is black or brown and a criminal therefore Dr. C another BME individual not a criminal should find it okay to be stopped and harrassed by the police. Is that the argument? if it is its sad.”

    No that is not the argument. But suppose the police had a rule of thumb for stopping people to be searched – as I imagine they do. Suppose it was something like: young, male, inner city, wearing street clothing, mouthing off with authority, loud and unconcerned about others. That would not bother any doctor in a suit. Nor would it affect most BMEs. It would pick up a lot of Whites. But it is likely to disproportionately affect BMEs as well. Their rule of thumb may affect BMEs in a disproportionate way without being about race – and it may well leave most BMEs well alone.

    “Now, what about the statistice of stop and search vs conviction. I think its pretty low so you have to start wondering what level of reasonable suspicion are the police using when they choose their stop and search suspect?”

    Sorry but what do you think is pretty low? From a quick look at the figures, it looks as if Asians are being stopped slightly more often than they are likely to be in prison, and Blacks much less. But neither in unreasonably large amounts.

    “When the MET has not really shown itself to be beyond racism in many instances, could anyone be surprised that there is lack of confidence among citizens?”

    There is no doubt that the Met has shown itself beyond racism despite all the would-be Al Sharptons. The lack of confidence, if it exists, has more to do with said would-be Al Sharptons than the police.

  16. Laban Tall — on 28th February, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

    Aren’t BME people more likely (statistically) to live in high-crime areas ? Is Newham higher-crime than Beaconsfield, and Skipton lower-crime than Manningham ?

    As for Sunny’s “If they stopped and searched more whites, they might find a higher proportion of criminals” – just imagine what he’d post if the Mail said that about black people …

  17. Roger — on 28th February, 2009 at 10:38 pm  

    “A disproportionate number of Asian and black people are being stopped by police and fingerprinted using a new mobile scanner, the BBC has learned. Of the 29,000 people stopped, 14% were Asian and 16.5% black despite those ethnic groups representing just 4% and 2% of the population respectively.

    Something isn’t quite right here, is it?”

    No, but in a more complex way than people have suggested. Crimes are more often committed by young men and there is a higher proportion of young men in these two groups than among the general population which would explain some of the difference. More important, the kind of crimes that can be detected or provoked- what proportion of those arrested were arrested for resisting being stopped and figerprinted?- by these methods also probably are more common among these groups- most obviously, possession of certain drugs. This very handy if a police station or police force want to increase their arrest rates. Certainly- as we have learned recently- the police have not stopped and fingerprinted midle-aged bankers to see if they were engaged in crimes whem that would have been very useful, if the sort of crimes that middle-aged bankers tend to commit were so easily detectable.

  18. Sunny — on 28th February, 2009 at 11:11 pm  

    Well I don’t think that 80 year-old grannies should be searched at airports in the same proportion as 25 year-old men. Do you?

    Ok, what are the percentages? They’re certainly not 500% more are they?

    As for Sunny’s “If they stopped and searched more whites, they might find a higher proportion of criminals” – just imagine what he’d post if the Mail said that about black people …

    I’m turning it around, in case you didn’t get it. To say that because there are a higher proportion of BME people in jail doesn’t mean they commit more crimes, but it may be because there’s more police in those areas constantly stopping and searching, and in some cases deliberately criminalising people.

  19. So Much For Subtlety — on 28th February, 2009 at 11:46 pm  

    Roger – “More important, the kind of crimes that can be detected or provoked- what proportion of those arrested were arrested for resisting being stopped and figerprinted?”

    I think we can safely say the number in prison for resisting a stop and search is nil.

    “most obviously, possession of certain drugs. This very handy if a police station or police force want to increase their arrest rates.”

    Such a lovely vicious insinuation. Without proof of course. Again, to go to prison a thief has to commit something like 140 house breakings. The chances that anyone goes to prison these days because some PC plants a small amount of cannibis on him is zero. This is just paranoia.

    “Certainly- as we have learned recently- the police have not stopped and fingerprinted midle-aged bankers to see if they were engaged in crimes whem that would have been very useful, if the sort of crimes that middle-aged bankers tend to commit were so easily detectable.”

    Or if any middle-class bankers actually committed any crimes. And so far it seems not in this country.

    Sunny – “To say that because there are a higher proportion of BME people in jail doesn’t mean they commit more crimes, but it may be because there’s more police in those areas constantly stopping and searching, and in some cases deliberately criminalising people.”

    I tend to think it does mean they commit more crimes. Unless you think the police, the Public Prosecutions Service, the Juries and the Judges of Britain are all in a conspiracy to frame BMEs.

    Deliberate criminalising? How does that work then?

    As far as I can see this is just a legacy of the Militant Tendency attempt to radicalise the BME communities. It is needless paranoia. The police couldn’t possibly push through a successful prosecution of someone they stuck two spliffs on. It would be laughed out of Court.

  20. Seven days too long — on 1st March, 2009 at 12:58 am  

    “deliberately criminalising”

    And to have any effect what sort of scale would this be occurring on. Sorry that’s just moonbattery of the highest order.

  21. BenSix — on 1st March, 2009 at 3:30 am  

    “Oh, and some deluded blogger thinks New Labour have an “excellent” record on civil liberties.”

    It’s somewhat illuminating when the HP comment thread is more sensible than the original post…

  22. qidniz — on 1st March, 2009 at 9:11 am  

    It’s somewhat illuminating when the HP comment thread is more sensible than the original post…

    The blogger trolls the commentariat? Perish the thought!

  23. MaidMarian — on 1st March, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

    Golam Murtaza (10) – ‘This is JUST an idea. I wondered, do police use the stop and search method especially heavily in urban areas because crime is particularly prevalent in towns and cities? And then if so, maybe the number of black and asian people being stopped and searched is consistently disproportionately high because they happen to be so heavily concentrated in urban areas? Any thoughts?’

    Well – there was the idea about the publication of crime maps that got a bit of support recently and I can only think that the end-point of that idea is that police concentrate resources in those areas mapped as high crime.

    I have to say that I rather struggle with the idea that particular areas should be less policed because of the racial profile of the area’s population regardless of reported crime figures.

    I do recognise that ‘reported’ is an important qualifier.

  24. Ravi Naik — on 1st March, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    Of the 29,000 people stopped, 14% were Asian and 16.5% black despite those ethnic groups representing just 4% and 2% of the population respectively.

    Something isn’t quite right here, is it?

    Yes Sunny: your analysis is not quite right.

    Crime and the proportion of ethnic minorities are not uniform across the country: they are higher in urban areas. The fact that there is correlation between both of them:

    1) Does not mean that ethnic minorities are predisposed to cause crime. Correlation does not imply causation. It just probably mean that you have more ethnic minority families in lower socio-economic backgrounds than whites.

    2) Does not mean that there is ethnic profiling. The police may just be doing preventive measures in places where crime is high – which happen to have a larger proportion of ethnic minorities than the national figure. Also, a good number of ethnic minorities are immigrants, and immigrants tilt towards males as opposed to children and seniors. Males – in particular those in the 18-35 group – are more predisposed to commit crimes, than other demographic groups.

    In other words, when comparing ethnic minorities with whites, you should compare both groups across different demographic and socio-economic groups, not the population as a whole. The latter is comparing apples with oranges.

    I am not saying that there isn’t ethnic profiling, but if you want to make a case that something is wrong, then you have to provide a more thorough analysis.

  25. Ibn Abbaas — on 1st March, 2009 at 4:11 pm  

    There’s a very good response from a Muslim to Sookhdeo’s book ‘Global Jihad’, which exposes the inherent problems contained therein.
    I would recommend everyone read it to see how Sookhdeo spreads disinformation concerning Islam and Muslims:

    http://www.salafimanhaj.com/pdf_page.php?pdf=119

  26. damon — on 1st March, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    Lee Jasper has been on record as making statements that some people on the anti-racist left might not be happy with – and he is a leading figure in that political tradition.
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=lee+jasper+black+gangsta&meta=
    I remember him one time talking about the unemployment rate of young black London males in specific parts of the capital. He was talking about thse four or five bouroughs that had the higest African/Carribean origin populations. I thought the figure sounded very high at the time (it was about 5 years ago) and I think I remember him talking of a figure as high as 70%. (It was at least 50% for sure – but he might have said 70% – I can’t clearly remember).

    But whatever, even 50% (and he was only talking about some very specific localities, like for example some of the estates in Southwark and Brent).

    How on earth would there not be a disproportunate amount of police activity aimed at that part of the population? Young men, not in employment or education, and just hanging out in their ”endz” all day.

    Did anybody ever see some of the three minute films that come on Channnel 4 after the 7pm news?
    These ones which were black teenagers in East London just talking to camera about their lives?
    In one of them, a young lad called AJ Nakasila (who was born in Congo) talked about his life.
    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/dispatches/i4i+films+by+aj+nakasila/1390347

    It’s completely understandable (and not racist) for the police to be very concerned as to what he and his friends are up to on a day to day basis.
    When I posted like this on another (supposidly leftist and liberal forum – but which turned out to be a forum of shallow political correctness), I was called a racist and a bigot.

    The police I’m sure do have prejudices and need to be controled and monitored closely. But the race politics of the likes of Lee Jasper, were I think well summed up by Nirpal Dhaliwal.
    http://www.the-latest.com/these-leaders-no-longer-speak-for-black-london

  27. ad — on 1st March, 2009 at 9:17 pm  

    Riz, the question is – is this stop and search criminalizing people?

    Sunny, it may be the question raised by the article, but it is not the question raised by your excerpt.

    If young men turned out to be more likely to be stopped than old women, would that raise your hackles?

    Frankly, I think the obvious question is: how many of these stoppages lead to a conviction for something serious?

  28. qidniz — on 2nd March, 2009 at 12:24 am  

    There’s a very good response from a Muslim to Sookhdeo’s book ‘Global Jihad’, which exposes the inherent problems contained therein.

    Wrong thread, and silly “review” anyway. (Dar-al-kufr? This revisionist invention is so recent that it doesn’t even have an entry in the 2nd edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam.)

  29. damon — on 2nd March, 2009 at 10:14 am  

    ad said:

    ”Frankly, I think the obvious question is: how many of these stoppages lead to a conviction for something serious?”

    I think policing strategy works a bit differently to actual numbers of convictions when it comes to policing the streets in areas where there is persistent low level crime – (I just started watching the fourth series of The Wire on dvd last night).

    But seriously, I’m for ever hearing interviews on my local radio about policing in London. Whether it be with the Mayor (either Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson), or people like Lee Jasper or police themselves – or people in charge of policing strategy in a political dimension.
    And they all say to varying degrees that high profile policing, where the fear of being caught with a knife (or having illegal things in their posession) has to be a part of policing. The deterrence factor.

    So they turn up one afternoon at a railway station with 15 police and a knife arch, and start picking out people to walk through it. Maybe everybody should go through it, but you know that the police will be profiling people. And for example, would immediately go to someone coming off a train, and who was thought to have spotted the police and the knife arch, and turned around and gone back to the platforms.
    There could of course be a perfectly reasonable explaination for doing so, but police would have been much more interested in someone fitting their ”rule of thumb” profile doing that, than they would be of my OAP mother.

    On Dotun Adebayo’s sunday evening radio programme on the sunday evening after the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival last august, he started his show by talking of being disturbed by having been at the Carnival that day, and seeing at one point, police having stopped a group of black boys, and had them leaning up against the wall, like he said, ”some image out of South Africa under apartheid.”

    The police would say that they were just trying to stop gangs (or ”crews”) causing trouble, and prevent someone getting killed that day.

    For example, police action miles from Carnival, didn’t lead to many convictions, but make of it what you will:

    ”Two youths were arrested after a gang of about 50 gathered in Lewisham, south-east London, and began throwing missiles at police. Police believe the group were on their way to the carnival.

    A number of youths were also arrested outside the Oval cricket ground in south-east London after officers surrounded about 180 people in Harleyford Road.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7580562.stm

    Another BBC page, reported this:
    ”In the first incident, on Monday afternoon, officers stopped a group of about 180 people in Harleyford Road, outside the Oval.

    Police said 151 were taken to a police station, of which seven were formally arrested for public order offences or possession of pointed or bladed items.

    Officers said they believed the group, which included many teenagers, were on their way to the carnival to commit crime.

    Some members of the group had a history of being involved in disorder at the carnival, police said.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7581556.stm

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