Put Up Or Shut Up (Sir)

I am indebted to one of our number for bringing the following article to my attention

Met police ‘routinely discriminate against black people,’ Scotland Yard diversity chief warns

Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa has openly claimed that the Metropolitan Police routinely discriminates against ‘black people’.

Police are routinely discriminating against black people in stop and search operations in London as part of a misguided performance culture

Routinely is defined thus;

  • As part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason
  • Frequently and without proper consideration of the consequences

I am shocked.  To think that this behaviour is going on every day unchallenged shocks me to my very core.  It is unprofessional, unethical and undoubtedly unlawful.  Mr Olisa says that the discrimination was unwitting and driven by performance rather than racism but had led to a negative stereotyping of black people.  “Driven by performance”?  Still unethical etc etc.

Ch Supt Olisa, one of Scotland Yard’s most senior black officers, said police were more likely to stop a car with young black men on the chance of finding drugs than stop a car full of white men in suits, though they could also be in possession of cocaine.  This is possibly true but, let’s remind ourselves what s1 (3) of Police and Criminal Evidence Act has to say on it

This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles


More likely to stop a car full of young black men than white men wearing suits?  Possibly, probably BUT whoever they stop they have to have REASONABLE GROUNDS.

Reasonable Grounds are explained thus

Reasonable grounds for suspicion is the legal test which a police officer must satisfy before they can stop and detain individuals or vehicles to search them under powers such as section 1 of PACE (to find stolen or prohibited articles) and section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (to find controlled drugs). This test must be applied to the particular circumstances in each case and is in two parts:

(i) Firstly, the officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in their own mind that they will find the object for which the search power being exercised allows them to search ; and

(ii)  Secondly , the suspicion that the object will be found must be reasonable . This means that there must be an objective basis for that suspicion based on facts, information and/or intelligence which are relevant to the likelihood that the object in question will be found, so that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts and information and/or intelligence.

So, Mr Olisa, you are stating or implying, that Metropolitan Police Officers are routinely breaching these legal standards in pursuit of Performance Indicators (which should have been scrapped years ago).

My challenge to you, Chief Superintendent Olisa, is to find these officers, identify them, identify and specify the nature of their wrong-doing or breach of PACE, or their racism.  ANY officer falling short of the required standards should be retrained, disciplined or maybe even prosecuted if appropriate,   I don’t have a problem with any of that.  I do have a problem with senior officers making scattergun allegations without producing a single shred of evidence.

The morale of the Police Service everywhere, not just the Metropolis, is at rock bottom.  Much of that is due to DPS/PSD/IPCC witch hunts and officers being forced to fear their own shadows.

If an officer complies with the legal requirements for Stop and Search he/she should NOT hesitate to use his/her powers immediately, effectively and professionally.

Mr Olisa continued

The cop on the ground is just doing it because of what he or she thinks is right, they are not doing it because they are racist.

But when you look at the accumulated data you see massive disproportionality. I think that’s where we get lost.

Could it possibly be that the accumulated data might mean something other than your interpretation?  We have had these discussions and arguments before, and the Police Service needs to stop shying away from them.  As a white, hetreosexual male I wouldn’t be in any way offended if statistics showed that white, heterosexual males committed the majority of crimes, or were more likely to get stopped and searched than any other sector of society.

This is another example of need.  Need for the Police Service to keep accurate, robust records and stand by them, whatever they show.

We didn’t seem to have half these problems when we were a Police Force.

So Mr OIisa, we come back to the beginning, Put Up Or Shut Up.  Produce the evidence and act on it, and I, and many others will support you.  Until then STOP denigrating the reputation of what used to be the finest Police Force in the world, and further demoralising the good, honest, front line cops who are struggling against the odds to do their job to the best of their ability.  That’s why they joined.  That’s why anybody should join the Police, NOT to be part of a measured percentage.

UPDATE

Since writing the above, Mr Olisa has issued a rebuttal/explanation, which can be found here.

However, however much he swerves and wriggles, the Grauniad carried an almost identical article in June and I have not yet seen a rebuttal of that one.

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6 Comments

  1. For me, one of the main problems is the way the statistics are examined. I suspect that several variables are not taken into account which would add some valuable context. For example, proportion of people who are arrested and charged with a crime type, suspect descriptions, available population (who is on the streets when the stop occurs, this may be different at 3pm / 3am or the area that the stop occurred. Why don’t they do case studies as to why certain individuals were stopped? This would hold far more weight than courting headlines. Statistics can tell you anything that you want to see.

  2. It’s not worth doing stop search anymore. Its to much hassle. For starters every stop MUST be recorded on body worm camera but there is only a handful of cameras for a start, (many of them worn but PCSOs who don’t do stops) and if you do a search without one you have to account and justify why you didn’t record it on camera. Every stop search is scrutised and God forbid they accuse you of racism. So as a result the criminals can now walk around with weapons and contraband because bobbies don’t want to be discuplined or even, as some are pressing for, prosecuted.

  3. I’m sorry but the press are our friends. They would never misrepresent the police or anything an officer would say. Why would they do that?

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