Stop and search: Defending the indefensible

16 July 2020 — Institute of Race Relations

Police forces across England and Wales will no doubt vigorously defend their tactics during the forthcoming Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) inquiry into possible racial discrimination in use of force and stop and search. Leaving aside the question of whether the long-criticised IOPC is the right organisation to lead such an inquiry, arguments already deployed by the Metropolitan Police to justify their tactics are deeply concerning. Metropolitan commissioner Cressida Dick has implied that racial profiling in working-class multicultural neighbourhoods is legitimate on the spurious ground that disproportional stop and search leads to similar levels of ‘positive outcomes’ as between different ethnic groups. The implication of her argument that black people are more frequently involved in crime than other ethnic groups is fallacious, as the Guardian, building on previous research, quite rightly pointed out in a hard-hitting editorial.

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