Stop and search on black people halvesFebruary 12, 2021
Stop and search on black people halves as officers are more wary following the BLM protests
- Top officer says some think that stop and search is ‘more trouble than it’s worth’
- Superintendent Simon Rotherham suggested BLM demos dented confidence
- About 7,000 black people were searched last month- down from 17,295 in May
Police use of stop and search on black people has halved since last summer’s race protests as some think it’s ‘more trouble than it’s worth’, a top officer said yesterday.
Superintendent Simon Rotherham of Scotland Yard suggested the Black Lives Matter demos over George Floyd’s death in the US dented officers’ ‘fragile’ confidence.
About 7,000 black people were stopped and searched in London last month, down from 17,295 in May.
Supt Rotherham said: ‘We have officers say, ‘it’s not happening – unless I see the knife sticking out their back pocket I’d feel uncomfortable to do it’.’
Police use of stop and search on black people has halved since last summer’s race protests as some think it’s ‘more trouble than it’s worth’, a top officer said yesterday [File photo]
He added that many frontline officers were wary of being filmed and the encounter ending up on YouTube or being scrutinised by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
It follows a series of controversies last year when officers were accused of racial profiling after stopping a number of prominent figures, including a Labour MP and a British athlete.
When asked whether some officers now believe stop and search is more trouble than it’s worth, the Superintendent replied: ‘More trouble than it’s worth? I can’t answer for everyone but we do have officers who say that to us, yes.’
He added: ‘The thing that has been really evident for us over the last few years is just how fragile officer confidence is around stop and search. It’s a discretionary power. You don’t have to do it, no one can make you do it.
‘If you don’t think you’ve got grounds to search then you shouldn’t be doing it. Officer confidence around it is really impactive.
Superintendent Simon Rotherham of Scotland Yard suggested the Black Lives Matter demos over George Floyd’s death in the US dented officers’ ‘fragile’ confidence
‘When the press is quite rightly critical at times, and other times not so justified, it really impacts on the officers.’
He went on: ‘It’s very interesting to see that the numbers of black people being searched reduced over the summer considerably.
‘Was that a result of Black Lives Matter? I don’t know. But things do change, it fluctuates. Officers live in London, they’re aware of London. That sort of comment and commentary does impact.’
Superintendent Rotherham spoke out after a showcase of a Metropolitan Police stop and search simulation designed to help communities understand how it feels to be an officer on the street and boost confidence in the tactic.
But despite the issue of race dominating debate on stop and search, none of the video simulations feature a black person, something that Scotland Yard says now needs updating.
Previous figures have shown black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than white people in London, but the latest ethnicity breakdown suggests that this may change.
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