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MPA STOP AND SEARCH SCRUTINY- FAR REACHING REPORT PUBLISHED

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The Metropolitan Police Authority's Stop and Search Scrutiny today published its final report which contained a ran...
The Metropolitan Police Authority's Stop and Search Scrutiny today published its final report which contained a range of far reaching recommendations that should lead to improvements in the use of stop and search by the Metropolitan Police Service in London.

Chair's forward, executive summary and recommendations can be found here.

The scrutiny heard many different perspectives and some contradictions between the practices and experiences of the Met police with that of representatives of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities. On the basis of the evidence presented, it was forced to conclude that stop and search practice continues to be influenced by racial bias.

The report makes a number of recommendations not only to the Met, but also to the key organisations that have an important role to play in influencing and informing the practice. These include the Commission for Racial Equality, the Home Office, the Independent Police Complaints Commission and community organisations.

Cecile Wright, chair of the scrutiny panel and equal opportunities and diversity board said:

'We fully appreciate and recognise the enormous efforts that the Met have undertaken in recent years to improve police/community relations. However these efforts need to be accelerated if we are to achieve our ultimate aim - to restore all our communities' trust in our police and to ensure that all Londoners are treated equally by police officers.

'Historically, stop and search has resulted in distrust and levels of disengagement by those Londoners who are repeatedly stopped and searched. Although figures suggest a decrease in criminal activities, the Met's figures still show black Londoners are four times more likely to be stopped than white Londoners.

'This is of great concern to the MPA because the way in which the police use stop and search is crucial to community relations and it impacts on the ability o f the Met to recruit black and ethnic minority people into the police service.

'We concluded that the negative and disproportionate impact of the present stop and search rates couldn't be tolerated in London. The cost of current practice, both in police/community relations and resources, is simply too great. It is imperative that swift and effective implementation of the actions we proposed be taken.

'I am pleased that Sir John Stevens, the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service has accepted the report and I am very honoured to have been asked by the Met to assist them in progressing the implementation of recommendations. This is a significant step for the Met and I strongly commend the commissioner on his bold and visionary leadership.'

NOTES

1.Background

In January 2003 the MPA's co-ordination and policing committee agreed to conduct a scrutiny into the Met's performance and practice in using stop and search across the capital.

According to the MPS data, stop and search rates of Blacks in London increased by 30% between 2000/2001 and 20001/2; for Asian by 41% and for Whites by 8%. This is of deep concern to the MPA and has resulted in a state of historical distrust and levels of disengagement that hampers police/community relations and the MPA objective to recruit more people from black and minority ethnic communities into the Met.

The scrutiny was overseen by the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Board, the MPA committee responsible for matters relating to equal opportunity and diversity issues. Its task was to focus on five particular aspects of stop and search:

* To assess the impact of race

* To assess what use is made of stop and search data

* To identify the cost effectiveness of stop and search

* To review the assertion of disproportionality in criminality

* To identify good practice

In pursuit of these tasks the primary method pursued by the Scrutiny Panel was through public Evidence Hearing Sessions, twelve of which wer e held between June 2003 and January 2004. In addition, desk research was undertaken to review findings of recent studies and reports on the issues being explored.

Between June 2003 and January 2004 the scrutiny panel held 12 public evidence hearing sessions from a wide range of groups and individuals. These included: the deputy commissioner Ian Blair, senior police officers, officers operating stop and search on boroughs, the Home Office, Lee Jasper, policy director GLA, Black Londoners Forum, NACRO, Professor Marian Fitzgerald, 1990 Trust, CRE, BPA, Police Federation, Islamic Human Rights Commission, Delroy Lindo and Doreen Lawrence. Numerous youth groups were consulted including community youth groups from Hackney, Southwark and Lambeth as well as representatives from the MPS's IAG. In addition, recent studies and reports on stop and search were reviewed.

In total the panel made 56 recommendations in the following areas:

* leadership: recognition of the problem

* stop and search powers

* organisational management

* training

* public complaints

* intelligence and information technology

* community/ police relations

2. Panel Members:

Chair: Cecile Wright (Chair Equal Opportunities and Diversity Board)

Vice Chair: Lyn Featherstone

MPA Members: R. David Muir (Deputy Chair of the Authority), Eric Ollerenshaw, Peter Herbert

External Panel members: Althea Smith (Chair of Southwark Community and Police Consultative Group), John Grieve (former Head of Diversity Directorate MPS), Brian McCarthy (Action for Irish Youth), Reverend Nims Obunge (Haringey Peace Alliance).

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