From Lola Adesioye for Jack&Jill Politics:
In the UK, the police tactic of ’stop and search’, when a police officer stops and searches you on suspicion of being a likely criminal, has always been highly controversial. It is the police misuse of stopping and searching – a tactic that requires little justification or evidence apart from the fact that you simply look suspicious – that led to the 1981 riots in Brixton (London) and it has been largely responsible for poor relations between the police and the black British community. Over the years, it has been shown that black men are disproportionately more likely to be stopped and searched.
When 10 years ago, top judge Lord McPherson shocked the UK by condemning the police force as ‘institutionally racist’ (after their discrimination resulted in a botched enquiry into the racist murder of a young black man called Stephen Lawrence) it was hoped that racially-motivated biases in police practices would be reduced. However, the police have continued to fight for their right to use stop and search, despite little evidence that it’s effective.
This week new evidence has come out to show that not only are racial discrepancies in stop and search ongoing but that they are progressively worsening. Black men in the UK are now 8 times more likely (up from 6 times) to be stopped and searched than white males.
The UK likes to claim that it is a haven of multi-cultural love. My friends back home – I was born and raised in London – will often talk about how the UK has it so much better than the US, where I have been living for the past 2 years. I don’t agree that the UK is any better off in its race relations than the US. The difference is that we Brits, for the most part, like to pretend that race isn’t an issue while Americans (despite the fact that you think you don’t) talk about it a great deal more.