[MAC0024]

Written evidence submitted by the Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring Group (MAC0024)

 

Introduction

 

Haringey Independent Stop and Search Monitoring Group (HISSMG) has been in existence since 2010.  It is a grass roots organisation, working independently of the police.  Its membership consists of volunteers and receives no funding.  We monitor the police use of stop and search in relation to effectiveness and fairness, including racial disproportionality and issues of concern for community/police engagement Members create opportunities to inform young people of their rights and support people in making complaints against the police. We participate in the training of new police officers and act as advisors to the police and Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

 

We are submitting this evidence because we are in a unique position, as a grass roots scrutiny group in a multicultural area with a significantly Black population, to ‘tell it how it is’ – i.e. to share with the Committee information that would not be apparent by looking at statistical data alone. We are ‘critical friends’ of the police, focused on solutions. We have proposed several recommendations in this evidence of reforms that we believe are urgently needed to make significant improvements. Our communities, we tired of with well-meaning words and want to see actions that reduce racial discrimination in policing and improve the Black community’s diminishing trust in the police. In Haringey, 16% of residents are Black African or Black Caribbean, compared with around 3% nationally and 7% in London as a whole.

 

Our members, assigned with the task of compiling recommendations on behalf of our community and will available to provide further information or oral evidence, if desired are:

 

 

SUMMARY OF THE AREAS OF CONCERN FOR HARINGEY BOROUGH:

 

N.B.  The source for statistics is the Metropolitan Police unless otherwise stated.

 

  1. BLACK/WHITE DISPROPORTIONALITY RATES FOR STOP AND SEARCH GETTING HIGHER, NOT LOWER

 

The disproportionate and unfair stop and searches of Black young people in Haringey is widely acknowledged to have contributed to the disturbances in 2011.

 

At that time Black people in Haringey were four times more likely to be stopped and searched than White.

 

Between 2012-2016, these rates decreased, but since then have risen incrementally to pre-riot levels. 

 

In the 12 months leading up to May 2020, Black men were almost five times more likely to be stopped and searched than their White counterparts.

 

Over the last 6 years, both the overall numbers of stops and searches have increased as well as the proportion of those searches under ‘Section 60’where no grounds for suspicion are required.

 

Haringey: volume of stops and searches under Pace and Section 60 (12 months):

 

June 2013-May 2014 = 5,833

 

June 2018-May 2019  = 9070

 

June 2019-May 2020  = 11,326

 

Haringey: persons stopped and searched under section 60

 

June 2013-May 2014   1

 

June 2018-May 2019  = 512

 

June 2019-May 2020 = 563

 

Why these increases and disproportionality matter

 

Firstly and most importantly, being stopped and searched is not a pleasant experience for anyone.  Most people, minimally, feel uncomfortable and embarrassed. You often hear people say, “I wouldn’t mind being stopped and searched. If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to worry about.”  The people who say this are usually those who have never been stopped and searched.  Those who have, particularly those who have been searched multiple times on suspicions that proved to be unfounded, describe the experience very differently.  HISSMG did a survey of students at CONEL University in Tottenham, Haringey.  Of those who had been stopped and searched (mostly black), and none of whom had criminal convictions, the words they used to describe their feelings included “frustrated”, “violated” ,“targeted”, “disrespected”, “angry”, “and traumatised”.  Stop and search is NOT a minor inconvenience, but a major intrusion on a person’s life and civil liberties.

 

Secondly, stop and search is not carried out equitably.  It disproportionately targets black people, which causes enormous damage to individuals and to the community as a whole.

 

In our view, it should be used sparingly, and only when there are sufficient grounds.

 

Where stop and search is justified, then we have not quarrel with it, as a police tool.  But the

statistics prove that stop and search is a very blunt and ineffective instrument, with suspicions being unfounded in two out of every 3 cases where people are stopped and searched in this borough. 

 

The No Further Action rate in Haringey between May 2018 and May 2020 stood at a worrying 77%.

 

What this means for young black men

 

In Haringey, teenagers aged between 15-19 are the age-group most likely to be stopped and searched. Met dashboard statistics show that a 15-19 year old in Haringey is 3 times more likely to be stopped and searched as a 25-29 year old.

 

In practice, this means that young black men living in the borough, will experience multiple stops and searches each year – commonly once or twice a week.  Most frequently, no further action is taken, because police suspicions were unfounded.  In other words, the police and community gain nothing by the stop and search.  Yet the damage to the individual and community trust in the police, can be serious and lasting.

 

The feeling of being ethnically targeted is exacerbated when Section 60 orders come into play.  For example, following a homicide in the borough, HISSMG received a complaint from a young black man with no previous convictions who was stopped and searched FIVE times in one day by different officers – each resulting in no further action, because he was innocent. We were able to corroborate his account with the stop and search slips he produced. He was a black young man in the part of the borough where a homicide had taken place. We have examples of children being stopped and searched simply because they were black and riding bicycles close to their houses, on the grounds that they were ‘in an area well known for gangs and drug dealing. Cycling while black in some parts of Haringey is considered suspicious behaviour by police.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way

 

In Haringey, Black/White disproportionality rates reduced significantly when Haringey were assigned a Black Borough Commander – the highly respected Dr. Victor Olisa who was Commander in the borough between 2012 and 2016.  Victor Olisa later became the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the MPS.  Under Olisa’s command, the Black/White ethnic disproportionality rate in Haringey fell from 3.7 in 2011 to 2:0 in 2012.   In other words, Black people were only two times more likely to be stopped and searched under Olisa’s command, compared with four times as many under his White predecessors and the White Commanders who followed him.

 

There is no suggestion that any officer was failing in their duty by not stopping and searching a higher proportion of Black people. Instead, we believe there was more careful oversight in relation to parity of reasonable grounds for a search. Data analysis noted that there was no significant increase in crime in the area resulting from the decrease in the numbers of stops and searches.

 

We and our community, are concerned that the police are targeting young black men for stop and search – whether for conscious or unconscious reasons.  It may well be that the police honestly believe they are simply and objectively responding to ‘black on black’ violence, but the NFA statistics show that in a very large, and arguably unacceptable number of cases, black people in particular are being stopped for no good reason.

 

In 2014, the previous Home Secretary, Theresa May said:

 

When innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public. In those circumstances it is an unacceptable affront to justice. 

 

Just to be clear, in 2020 numerous affronts to justice are taking place every single day in Haringey – with impunity.

 

Ethnic disproportionality in the use of force and excessive use of force.

 

There is a police perception – conscious or unconscious (shared by many members of the public) that young black men are dangerous.  This leads to the use of excessive and disproportionate force against black people. Despite requesting this information on many occasions, we have not been provided with the breakdown of use of force during stops and searches by ethnicity. However, national figures suggest that Black people are 8 times more likely to be subject to the use of force than a white person.

 

  1. Increased use of handcuffs

 

We have received increasing numbers of ‘unofficial’ complaints from Black people of all ages, from 60-year-old men to 12 year old children, about being handcuffed for no good reason before a stop and search. We have also had many complaints about handcuffs being put on far too tightly, causing great discomfort and sometimes injury.  The perception of many of the people that we’ve talked to is that the police are doing this deliberately.

 

Very worryingly, community feedback indicates that police use of handcuffs during stops and searches has increasingly become their default position - the procedural norm in relation to Black peoplePolice and PACE guidelines state that handcuffs used without good cause are unlawful and an assault, yet this routine and unnecessary use of handcuffs continues, without any obvious sanctions.

Retired Chief Superintendent, Victor Olisa, mentioned this in a recent Evening Standard article. He expressed grave concern about the practice of officers handcuffing young black men who were not under arrest and were not resisting or showing signs of aggression.

He warned that the treatment of young black men in this way, while their white friends were treated very differently, was a worrying development and that it “reinforce(s) the stereotype that conflates blackness with dangerousness”.

We have evidence recorded which we can send to the Committee, if requested, which illustrates this differential treatment of black/white maleswe have forwarded this to the IOPC.

Unfortunately we have no statistics, on the use of handcuffs during stop and search, with ethnic breakdowns, despite asking for this on many occasions.  (We will come back to this point later.)

Increased use of tasers

HISSMG are concerned by reports of increasing use of tasers across the borough. There have been several cases in recent weeks, resulting in life changing injuries where a young man is now paralysed from the waist down.  He was tasered while running away from police. We are members of the stakeholders’ group liaising with the IOPC in relation to community concerns surrounding this case and the issues arising from it.

Other recent incidents involving tasers have caused concerns, including the case of 62 year old Milford Scott, who was tasered in his own home, resulting in him falling down the stairs. The police, worryingly, did not voluntarily refer this case to the IOPC. However, the IOPC are now assessing this case – but only because it was brought to their attention through the media. HISSMG are still awaiting the IOPC findings of both these cases

We have also received anecdotal reports from young black people of tasers routinely being used, albeit not discharged, to exercise control or intimidate e.g. the red dot being pointed during a stop and search. Complaints by young people of harassment using tasers, including officers in a police van (reportedly but not confirmed to be TSG) pointing the red dot of the taser at a young black man while he was walking along the road, while the officer and his colleagues laughed, before driving off.

HISSMG are still waiting to receive a copy of police guidelines for the use of Tasers (Standard Operating Procedures) in order to answer legitimate queries from people in our community about the legitimate use of tasers.  We also require this information to make informed comments and recommendations on the use of tasers in our borough. We requested this from the MPS several weeks ago and are still waiting. We believe that documents like this – redacted or unredacted - should already be in the public domain, bearing in mind that tasers were rolled out throughout the country in 2008.

We are extremely concerned about the lack of clear guidelines (guidelines that are clearly understandable to the public) on when the use of a taser would be appropriate as well as inappropriate. From what we have been told, there appears to be a great deal of personal judgement in relation to the officer’s assessment of the degree of threat that must precede and justify discharging the weapon. In our view, this leaves a very large ‘loophole’ for unconscious bias.  This, combined with the fact that it is the police themselves (senior officers) who monitor whether the use of force was proportionate without any independent scrutiny by the community, gives us cause for great concern.

Please note that in Scotland, every discharge of a taser must be referred to the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) the Scottish equivalent of the IOPC.  The PIRC decide whether the discharge was legal or warrants further investigation.  In England and Wales, it is the police themselves who decide whether a discharge was illegal and only refer a case to the IOPC if they believe the way the weapon was used or the consequences for the individual involved are serious enough to warrant a referral. This suggests a greater degree of independent oversight of the use of tasers in Scotland, than in England and Wales.

Overuse of drugs searches

Our community wants stop and search primarily to be used as a tool to reduce violence – specifically gun and knifIne crime and have pointed this out to local police on many occasionsNevertheless drugs searches remain the single biggest proportion of searches in Haringey.  That proportion has not diminished over the last seven years – in fact has gone up

Proportions of all stops and searches that were for drugs. 

2014 average37%

2017 average: 56%

2019-2020 average: 57%

In 2017, HISSMG carried out a ‘mini audit’ of all stops and searches during a one month period – June 2017.  Our aim was to find out qualitative information that was not available through the statistics on the Met police stop and search ‘dashboard’.

 

In total, there were 266 drugs searches carried out in Haringey that month.  Drugs were found in 92 cases – a success rate of 35%. 

 

Where information was given on the type of drugs, in all but two cases that drug was cannabis.

 

When we looked at the quantity of drugs found, we fund that in only 4 cases were the amounts large enough to warrant a charge of ‘intent to supply’.  The rest were small amounts of cannabis for personal use.  In summary, only 4 out of 266 drugs searches in June 2017 (1.5% of cases) led to a suspected drugs dealer being arrested.

 

Why this is worrying is that, as highlighted in the Lammy Review of 2017, the very high numbers and proportions of drugs searches has led to a disproportionate number of our Black young people receiving criminal convictions as a result of stop and search for small amounts of cannabis.

 

Worryingly, the numbers of stops and searches for drugs increased during the weeks of lockdown due to Covid19

 

In the month of February 2020 (before lockdown) there were 609 drugs searches in Haringey.

 

During the month of April 2020 (during lockdown) there were 910 drugs searches in Haringey.

 

This huge increase in stops and searches, primarily for drugs is of major concern for several reasons. Firstly, and most importantly, the police are not using proper PPE when interacting with and touching people. Yet black people are being disproportionately searched and are disproportionately at greater risk of serious harm, if they contract the virus through an infected police officer.

 

Secondly, the higher disproportionality rate for stops and searches of black people – and fines – during the April lockdown reinforces the community’s perception that the police are racist – i.e. making a false but stereotypical conclusion that any black people on the streets during a pandemic must be selling drugs or up to no good.

 

In Haringey in April over 80% (check) of police searches for drugs led to no further action - meaning that police suspicions of drug carrying, or drug dealing were unfounded. Given the dangers of Covid19, such a high level of NFA stops of black people arguably constitute a serious human rights violation.

 

Failure to record stop and account

 

In Haringey (and almost certainly elsewhere) the decision, dating back to 2011, that stop and account need no longer be recorded has led to the disproportionate harassment of black people and vehicle stops in particular, for the purposes of ‘fishing expeditions’.

 

For example, in our June 2017 mini audit of the 5090 narratives (grounds for stop and search), it became apparent many officers were giving the grounds for a stop and search as ‘smell of cannabis in the car’ only AFTER the stop had taken place.  The grounds for stopping and searching the car in the first place were missing on the slip.

 

Anecdotally, black people in Haringey complain of being stopped because they are ‘guilty of driving while black’.  However, there is no way to prove this perceived disproportionate targeting, as the police are no longer required to record stop and accounts or vehicle stops. This is a subtle form of racial harassment/profiling that should not be allowed to continue.  The mandatory recording of stop and account should be reinstated.

 

  1. POLICE FAILURE TO LISTEN AND ACT ON OUR SCRUTINY GROUP’S CONCERNS ABOUT ETHNIC DISPROPORTIONALITY/RACIALLY UNJUST POLICING

 

HISSMG are frustrated that when we point out the (in our view unjustifiable) ethnic disproportionality rates at both a local and national level, nothing changes.  HISSMG have been complaining about the disproportionately high levels of stop and search of black people in Haringey since 2016 – to absolutely no effect.

 

And, as the statistics above prove, despite paying lip service to carrying out reforms and retraining, disproportionality rates are getting worse not better.  (CHECK)

 

This must change. This is the time for action. Many of our youths and others in the Black community are feeling very frustrated and angry with the police – especially following the George Flloyd killing in the U.S., the two taser incidents in Haringey and other videos demonstrating the unfair policing of young black people that have been circulating on social media.  It is no exaggeration to say that Haringey is like a tinder-box at the moment.

 

Actions not words

 

In our view, the Home Office should require police forces to either explain and justify disproportionality rates with empirical evidence or suffer sanctions if they continue.  Currently, racist policing and profiling continues with virtual impunity.

 

Parliament should urgently fulfil Theresa May’s promise when Home Secretary, that if things didn’t improve in relation to fair and effective stop and search practices, new legislation would be introduced to ensure that it did.

 

Failure of leadership – senior police officers

 

Despite the Macpherson recommendations to root out institutional racism in policing, in the last few years we have had a Commissioner and a Lead for stop and search in the Metropolitan Police Service who have both condoned and been complicit in the large increase in overall numbers of stops and searches including Section 60s, and the Black/White disproportionality that exists within these practices. This has had a hugely damaging effect in Haringey, further diminishing trust and confidence in the police.  For example:

 

 

This statement has upset and dismayed many Black people in our community who know differently through lived experience.  They are asking, if head of the Metropolitan Police is denying that there is institutional racism in the police force, despite all the evidence to the contrary, why is she allowed to remain in her job? How can they trust the Metropolitan Police to institute reforms in relation to institutional racism, if she doesn’t even accept that it exists?

 

*Source: “Does More Stop and Search Mean Less Crime?” College of Policing, 2017

 

Members of HISSMG heard this myth – that more stop and search results in a significant reduction in violence – being repeated in training session for new recruits at Hendon, with no evidence being given to support the assertion. 

 

Furthermore, some of our members were told (in confidence) by Haringey police officers that they were under pressure from Scotland Yard to increase the numbers of stops and searches in the borough, when they themselves thought that there were no grounds for doing so, and at a time when we, HiSSMG, were arguing for fewer, but fairer and more effective, intelligence- led stops and searches.

 

In our view, those in leadership positions should be guided by empirical evidence rather than acting in ways that are damaging to public confidence in policing.

 

On a more positive note, members of HISSMG have recently been invited to become advisers on the Metropolitan Police Use of Force Strategic Oversight Group. We hope that this shows a genuine commitment to action and reform, and not another talking shop or tick box exercise to fulfil legal and moral requirements in relation to consulting the community.

 

Also on a positive note, North Area Police (which covers the borough of Haringey), acknowledging the lack of action in the past, have expressed a willingness to embark on a number of ‘pilot projects’ with a view to fulfilling our requests for greater openness, transparency in data sharing, and involvement in officer training.  To implement these changes would require the go ahead from Scotland Yard, as apparently it is not in the ‘gift’ of the Haringey’s Borrough commander to implement these changes without authorization at a top level in the MPS.

 

  1. LACK OF OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY IN RELATION TO DATA COLLECTION AND DATASHARING

 

We consider that the Metropolitan police has only paid lip service to the notion of greater transparency and accountability in policing, as we – as a scrutiny group – feel that we are not being listened to.

 

An important example of this is the great difficulty we have faced in accessing the data we need to effectively carry out our scrutiny role – and answer the legitimate questions that our community is asking.

 

Although the Met has a stop and search ‘dashboard’ with monthly statistics which is appears to be comprehensive, this, in fact, only gives extremely basic quantitative information. 

 

The following are just a few examples of information we have been unable to access (there are many!)_despite asking on numerous occasions, and arguing that it is important that we have this information. 

 

a) Use of force statistics during stop and search with ethnic breakdowns:

 

We have, for example, been unable to determine how often handcuffs are used during stops and searches and the relative proportion of Black people being handcuffed, compared with White people.

 

The data is important because we have several complaints from Black youths about being unfairly handcuffed, and wider reports from the community about the routine use of handcuffs on black young people, with no apparent justification, witnessed and sometimes videoed by bystanders.

 

HISSMG have been informed that it would take up too much officer time to provide this information, since it is not automatically recorded on 5090 slips. To be clear, the Met do hold this information, but do not feel it is important enough to give to us, or to analyse for themselves.  We do not think this is acceptable, and betrays the scant regard that the Met gives to this issue and to us, as a scrutiny group.

 

b)      We have been denied access to the redacted ‘narrative’ details on the 5090 slips for stop and search, in the volumes we seek.  It is only by scrutinising the redacted 5090 slips that we can scrutinise the grounds for stopping and searching the person, and whether it was justified.

 

We have been told by senior officers in Haringey that it is inconvenient to them for us to look at large samples of data, because this takes our members a great deal of time (which is true) and we have to be supervised while we are in the police station, which takes up officer time, as even the redacted data cannot leave the police station.

 

To be frank, we can see no reason why we cannot be sent the redacted data electronically – and why we need supervision. 

 

Furthermore, it is impossible in our view, to carry out our scrutiny role properly by only looking at a very small, random sample of 5090 slips, as has been offered to us. To detect patterns of behavior, you need a large enough sample for anything significant to be picked up.

 

As mentioned before, the last time we were permitted to do a mini audit was in June 2017. Examples of worrying police behaviour which would not have been identified without such a detailed audit include, for example:

 

 

 

We feel it important to point out to police that completely innocent young Black men may have a very good reason to walk away from the police when they see them.  They want to avoid further contact with the police, due to previous bad experiences.  Yet, despite the high NFA rate, a black person walking away appears to be sufficient justification for a police officer to grab hold of and handcuff young black men in Haringey, according to many anecdotal accounts.

 

 

Our mini audit also helped us to determine that very few drugs searches resulted in drugs dealers being caught.  Additionally we were able to explode the belief that searching people for drugs will incidentally uncover significant amounts of weapons.  This proved not to be the case.

 

 

Our last ‘audit’ was conducted in 2017.  This led to us providing a report and recommendations to the Safer Neighbourhood Board, which the police attended (copy of report available on request). The police said they found the report helpful and influenced policing.

 

Despite this, we were recently informed that access to this more detailed data would be unlikely in future, because of resource implications.   We are currently in negotiation with the local police and MPS to change their response.

 

c)      No/limited access to Body Worn Video Footage

 

We were previously given access to view BWV, but this was withdrawn on the grounds of data protection. It is of concern that due to data protection rules, scrutiny groups may in future only be allowed to view highly redacted BWVs that are time consuming and costly to edit. We have been informed that conversations between the police and the subject stopped have been so redacted that it makes it impossible to determine whether the grounds for the stop were legitimate, because so little remains of the encounter. In our view, this degree of redaction makes our scrutiny role impossible. 

 

 

  1. EROSION OF TRUST BETWEEN THE POLICE AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN HARINGEY DUE TO HIGH TURNOVER OF SENIOR STAFF

 

In the ten years that HISSMG has existed, we have seen FIVE different Borough Commanders and SEVEN different stop and search leads.  The latest Commander arrived in July 2019.

 

Each time there is new personnel, the community and HISSMG need to build trust all over again. Trust is not built between the community and an anonymous organisation but between the community and individuals within the police.

 

HISSMG have pointed out to both the MPS and MOPAC on several occasions that the lack of continuity in community liaison personnel has resulted in important gains in trust being eroded. Our views and requests for continuity of personnel – particularly senior community liaison personnel - have been consistently ignored. We are also not informed of changes to personnel roles when the do occur.

 

  1. SYSTEMIC FLAWS IN THE COMPLAINTS SYSTEM

 

Third party complaints

 

Many of the young people and members of the BAME community who are subject to wrongful stop and searches and racial profiling, are reluctant to make a formal complaint. They fear reprisals from police officers and lack confidence that anything positive will arise from making a complaint. There is a widespread perception in our community that the police ‘protect their own’, and that it is not worth complaining as most officers will be exonerated.

 

For every 100 complaints that members of HISSMG receive from individuals, only one or two are willing to go ahead with a formal complaint.  That is why third-party reporting is so important.

 

However, the rules surrounding third party reporting are not fit for purpose. Currently, any formal complaint must comply with Schedule 3 of the Police and Crime Act 2017 and the IOPC Statutory guidance, which states the following:

 

In order for it to be recorded as a complaint, the person must have been adversely affected (or complaining on behalf of someone else who was adversely affected with their express consent) by the incident. A complaint will not be formally recorded if it is from someone who has watched an incident on television or social media but not been adversely affected themselves.”

 

In other words, without the express consent of an individual, a complaint will not be officially recorded, even when we –as a scrutiny group - have evidence, recorded on social media, of police misconduct.

 

In our view, this is counterproductive and anomalous – as any member of the public witnessing a ‘hate crime’ can report it to the police, for example, without having to prove that they personally have been adversely affected by it.

 

Threshold for complaining to the IOPC

 

We are also concerned that the bar set for referrals to the IOPC in relation to stop and search are set too high – apparently only incidents that result in serious injury or death.

 

However, there are many incidents that our community consider should be referred to the IOPC.  These include multiple victimisation cases and those involving patterns of racial discrimination.  Take the case of the young man who was stopped and searched five times in one day.  Although shocking to our community, this would not be considered serious enough to be ‘voluntarily’ referred to the IOPC by the Police.  Yet this was a deeply harmful experience for the young man concerned.

 

  1. LACK OF COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN UNCONSCIOUS BIAS TRAINING AT HENDON

 

Currently Unconscious Bias training is conducted at Hendon, Peel Training Centre.

 

When members of HISSMH attended to observe this training, we discovered that this lasted only approximately two hours, was conducted by a white police officer, with no involvement of BAME people who are directly impacted by unconscious bias.  Furthermore, the training consisted of a PowerPoint presentation aimed at explaining that unconscious bias exists, but without addressing how that might manifest itself in practice.  Members of HISSMG observing the training/presentation, had an interesting dialogue with new recruits, that arguably would not have happened had we not been present. The recruits and the training officer said they found this helpful, yet when we offered our services, as regular input into this training – this was declined.

 

  1.   BODY WORN VIDEOS – INTENDED AS A WAY OF SAFEGUARDING THE RIGHTS OF POLICE AND PUBLIC, HAVE BEEN A MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT

 

HISSMG has received numerous complaints about officers circumventing the BWV guidelines by

 

 

We have numerous anecdotal stories of officers verbally provoking young people prior to the stop and search, and then only switching the camera on when the young person ‘kicks’ off, because by now they are angry and upset. This selective turning on the video appears to give legitimacy to the decision to handcuff the young person.

 

We have heard other accounts where the officers switch off the cameras, and then say something offensive and inappropriate to the young person before leaving.  Examples include: “We know you’re guilty.  We’ll get you next time.”   One Black youth reported an officer saying to him:  “Next time we see you, you’ll be dead in the street” – implying that he would be the victim of a knife or gun attack.

 

Currently, there are so sanctions for the improper use of BWV, which apparently happens in around 1 in 10 cases.

 

One of our Members, was involved in senior level discussions prior to the roll out of BWV, expressing concerns at the time about the ways that officers could misuse BWV, which has turned out to be the case.

 

We are deeply disappointed that BWVs have not provided the intended safeguards.  Our own Chair, Ken Hinds, was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer when he intervened to assist a young black male during a stop and search. The officer claiming that he had been assaulted’, despite having no injuries. We were confident that the officer’s BWV evidence would exonerate him. However, it transpired that the police officer had not switched on his BWV – and the other officers present were focused on the person being arrested. This resulted in our Chair being convicted of assault at magistrate’s court.  The case was later thrown out on appeal by a crown court as having no merit but had the BWV been used as it should have been, Ken would have been spared this 9 month long ordeal. The damage to Ken’s reputation at the time was profound.  FYI, Ken has received several commendations from the Met police, British Transport Police and the IOPC both before and subsequently for his help in preventing the escalation of violent situations between members of the community and police.

Finally, we can but echo the words of former MPS Chief Inspector Rod Charles in an article in the Huffington Post, dated 3rd June 2020.

“There will be no possibility of restoring police and community relationships as long as current entrenchment in existing attitudes and defensiveness continues. Too often, senior police officers, politicians and the Police Federation are at the helm of that resistance.

 

I know the difficulties police officers face. I also know a majority of police officers deliver exemplary service day in day out. But when senior police officers and strategic decision-makers continue to fail to enact internal change in the face of clear injustice and unlawful deeds, the cycle of avoidable death will not end. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HISSMG RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

Our recommendations covering the specific areas discussed in our report are as follows:

 

  1. Officers should be required to record whether or not handcuffs or other force was used on their 5090 slips, and the grounds for using force, so that scrutiny groups like HISSMG can monitor its prevalence, lawfulness, and whether black people are disproportionately having force used against them for no justifiable reason.  Currently, despite asking on numerous occasions, we do not have access to this data.
  1. Plans to significantly increase the number of officers who are able to deploy tasers (in the Met and other forces) should be put on hold pending a review of taser use and the guidelines and training surrounding them.

 

  1. People of colour are significantly more likely to catch and die from Covid-19. Bearing in mind that Black individuals are significantly more likely to be stop searched, an amendment should be made to PACE making it mandatory for officers to wear ‘proper’ PPE during the Covid pandemic and indeed outbreaks of any serious communicable disease.

 

 

  1. Stop and account data should be recorded and added to the Met dashboard as it would allow for greater transparency and accountability in relation to police practice and and a deterrence against stopping and questioning black people disproportionately because they can do so with impunity.

 

 

  1. There is an urgent need for the police to address the issue of ethnic disproportionality seriously. In our view, the best and only way to achieve this is

 

  1. Through primary legislation, inscribe into law Lammy Review Recommendation No. 4, viz:

 

If CJS agencies cannot provide an evidence-based explanation for apparent disparities between ethnic groups, then reforms should be introduced to address those disparities. This principle of explain or reform should apply to every CJS institution.

 

  1. As part of the same legislation, to set up a new, independent oversight body, with the power to impose sanctions, to ensure compliance with the new law.

 

  1. The time for the police service to ‘police’ itself voluntarily should be over. In our view the following institutions have proved not to be not fit for purpose when it comes to holding the police to account and responding to community concerns about ethnic disproportionality in policing – either through lack of will or lack of teeth/powers to effect and impose sanctions for lack of change or reform:

 

Haringey MPS senior command

Scotland Yard Senior Command

HMIC

MOPAC

IOPC

 

  1. We believe a NEW body is urgently needed to fill the gap. This new oversight body for would have responsibility relating to ethnic disproportionality and structural racism that is independent of the police and would give local scrutiny groups, like HISSMG, and community IAGs and Safer Neighbourhood Boards a truly independent body, to which they can directly refer concerns about racism in policing.  The new body would make an independent assessment about whether the community’s concerns warrant further investigation. This could make a significant difference in improving public confidence and trust in the police monitoring and accountability process.

 

  1. Importantly, the MAJORITY representation of the new body should come from the BAME community, and have both the appropriate expertise to make complex judgements about police policy and practice AND also hold the trust of the Black community in relation to issues such as fair, proportionate and equitable policing, as well as complex issues like conscious and unconscious bias.

 

  1. Our suggestions of people who fulfil this complex pre-requisite and who could and should be ‘headhunted’ for this task include the following:

 

 

  1. There is an urgent need for more Black police officers at SENIOR level in the Metropolitan police and other forces, including borough commanders.

 

  1. There is also an urgent need for Commissioners, Chief Constables, and senior officers who are given the job of ‘Leads’ on stop and search, to acknowledge a) that there is still institutional racism in the police service as the statistical evidence proves, and b) that stop and search is not an effective tool in reducing violent crime, or any type of crime and can be damaging and counterproductive when used inappropriately. 

 

 

Community trust and confidence is essential for positive local police engagement. As such HISSMG needs to be able to demonstrate to our community that we are properly holding the police to account.  We therefore recommend that:

 

  1. Lammy Review Recommendation 3 should be fully implemented: The default position should be that all CJS agencies should publish all datasets held on ethnicity, while protecting the privacy of individuals.

 

  1. Scrutiny groups should be enabled and encouraged to view and carry out their own analyses of ethnicity data, while protecting the privacy of individuals

 

  1. Local monitoring groups, like HISSMG, should be able to view non randomly selected samples of BWV to scrutinise police policy and practice. These could include, for example, all stops and searches on a particular day or week led to no further action, or all stops and searches in which handcuffs were used. The offer of being given a tiny selection of BWVs, chosen at random, does not allow us to properly fulfil our scrutiny role, or get answers to legitimate areas of concern from the community in relation to BWVs – for example when they are switched on.  To do this, would have to view videos in numbers sufficient to detect patterns of behaviour.

 

  1. Where third party complaints are raised by members of our community, local scrutiny groups (and the complainant) should be able to view the corresponding BWV to scrutinise the unredacted recorded information, with the consent of the individual. This does not happen at the moment

 

  1. We suggest that rather than redact videos, that legislation is introduced to permit a small number of individuals from official scrutiny groups to view BWV without redaction, provided that they sign the official secrets act and that there are sanctions if the identity of individuals is revealed.

 

 

  1. Redacted guidelines for the use of all police weapons and use of force generally should be made publicly available as a matter of course.  Members of the public should not have to rely on FOI to gain access to these.

 

 

  1. Currently there is no requirement to record on the 5090 slip a record of the quantity of substance found – or the substances believed to be involved. Such information will help forces and scrutiny groups to assess the extent to which stop and search is being effectively targeted at priority crimes, like drug dealing rather than low level possession.  A new category on the 5090 should be added for this and the data recorded on the dashboard. 

 

 

  1. We believe that scrutiny groups should be able to file official complaints in relation to incidents that occur on our borough, when we are aware of them, on the grounds of potential harm caused to our community even when the individual does not give their consent.  While the lack of a subject willing to give evidence might make the incident more difficult to investigate, it does not make it impossible to investigate, due to body worn video and mobile phone footage.  It cannot be right that officers can get away with malpractice caught on camera, simply because the person whose rights have been violated is too afraid or unwilling to make an official complaint.  There is a precedent in this with domestic violence, where victims are unwilling to participate in prosecutions due to fear of reprisals.

 

  1. Local community groups should also be able to complain to the IOPC about patterns of bad behavior or policing practice that is harmful in our borough.  For example, a disproportionate number of complaints we receive about the use of excessive force relate to TSG officers, rather than local officers.  Currently only a small number of national organisations are able to make ‘Super complaints’ about patterns of behavior.  Local scrutiny groups should also be allowed to do this.  But this would require a change in legislation

 

 

  1. We recommend that the Parliament and IOPC review both the threshold for referral of complaints to the IOPC.  If one uses the parallel of domestic abuse day after day - repeat or multiple victimisation – can be as serious, if not more serious and damaging as a one off serious injury.  The same applies to police abusing the rights of our young black men. 

 

  1. We would argue that the notion of ‘seriousness’ is subjective, that bodily harm should not be the only criteria or harm, and that scrutiny groups should be able to refer cases to the IOPC, without the consent of the individuals concerned, if the incident was seriously damaging to the trust of the community in the police.

 

 

 

  1. The police training should include mandatory involvement from BAME community members and or BAME training consultants with expertise in unconscious Bias and Equality and Diversity Training.

 

  1. This training should not be a one-off event, but an ongoing process and dialogue with members of BAME organisations in the local area in which the officers are stationed – with progress monitored. This is particularly important now that trainee officers, with no experience of living in a diverse community, can apply to work in policing areas with highly diverse populations, like the MPS. Regular dialogue with people from the BAME population is essential.  The police should not rely on E-learning programmes and videos.

 

  1. Experienced officers that have been proven to have a good understanding and engagement with BAME communities should be involved in mentoring trainee officers for a minimum of 6 months during their initial training period.

 

 

  1. Where there is evidence of misuse of BWV by officers, including failure to switch on the camera, placement of the camera in a position where the interaction cannot be fully seen, or the camera switched on very late in the encounter, or switched off before the end of the encounter and conversations, sanctions should be put in place to challenge the behaviour and monitoring carried out to ensure improvements.

 

  1. In recognition that BWV records audio for the initial 20 seconds, officers should be required to ensure that BWV is activated prior to ANY direct encounter with members of the public, irrespective of the situation, stop and account or stop and search.

 

 

June 2020