More than a quarter of London’s black 15 to 24-year-olds were stopped and searched by police during the coronavirus lockdown – with more than eight out of ten frisks resulting in no further action.
Some 21,950 searches were carried out on young black men between March and May, but less than 20 per cent of these actually ended up with officers having to make an arrest or take other steps.
The Met has increased its use of the powers while restrictions have been in place, carrying out a total of 43,000 stops across the capital in May, compared to 21,000 a year earlier, and 30,608 in April, up from 20,981 carried out 12 months prior.
British athletics legend Linford Christie criticised the Met over the weekend accusing them of ‘institutional racism’ after two of his athletes were stopped and searched outside their west London home.
Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos were dragged from the car on Saturday after being pulled over by police outside their home.
The Metropolitan Police has had its ability to conduct stop and searches increased during lockdown.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, pictured, told the Home Affairs Select Committee her officers have stopped and searched almost 22,000 young black men between March and May – with only 20 per cent of these searchers leading to arrest or further action
The Met were caught in a race row last weekend after officers pulled over international athletes Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo dos Santos
Former Olympian Linford Christie, accused the Met of ‘institutional racism’ after the stop
The equivalent of 30 per cent of all young black males in London were stopped in that time, though some individuals may have been approached more than once.
Charities which campaign against the disproportionate use o stop and search have described the figures as ‘shocking and saddening’.
Katrina Ffrench, chief executive of Stopwatch, told the Guardian: ‘How do those young people feel when this is their city, they’re going about their daily business, could be caring for parents, all sorts of reasons as to why they’re out?’
The figures emerged in a home affairs select committee, chaired by Yvette Cooper, in which Met police commissioner Cressida Dick also apologised to Team GB sprinter Bianca Williams for the distress her officers caused her in a heavy-handed stop and search.
Dame Cressida told the committee she echoed a senior officer who had said ‘I’m sorry’ to the 26-year-old over the incident, which was heavily criticised and branded ‘racial profiling’ after video of it went viral.
Williams and her Portuguese sprinter husband Ricardo dos Santos, 25, were hauled from their Mercedes and handcuffed in front of their three-month-old son in Lanhill Road, Maida Vale, on Saturday afternoon.
The commissioner restated the apology made by her colleague and said they were reviewing handcuff policy, but defended the force’s use of stop and search, insisting black people were eight times more likely to be perpetrators of violent crime.
A video of the incident was posted online by former Olympic medallist Linford Christie.
The Met has voluntarily referred itself to the police watchdog following the controversy
Two internal reviews of the incident have cleared the officers involved of any wrongdoing
The Met has voluntarily referred itself to the police watchdog, despite two reviews by the force’s directorate of professional standards finding no misconduct by its officers.
Dame Cressida told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday: ‘We apologised yesterday to Ms Williams and I apologise again for the distress this stop clearly caused her.’
The commissioner said reviews of the evidence by two separate teams have found there was no apparent misconduct, but explained a referral was made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) because of ‘the level of public concern’.
She said: ‘Yesterday two of my officers spoke on our behalf to Ms Williams, and I think all of us watching could empathise with somebody who is stopped in a vehicle, who has a young child in the back, who does not probably know what exactly is going on, and is subsequently found, together with her partner, not to be carrying anything illicit.’
Dame Cressida said she has asked a senior officer to review the Met’s handcuffing practices to make sure it hasn’t become a ‘default’, and has set up an ‘oversight group’ looking at the use of force.
‘Every time we see a video that is of concern we review them, we see if there are any lessons learned,’ she told MPs.
‘My senior officer has said… I’m sorry to Ms Williams for the distress, it has clearly caused her, and I say that, too.
‘So, if there are lessons to be learned from it, we will learn them, and I’m looking at handcuffing as a specific issue.’
Dame Cressida told the committee stop and search has increased by around 50 per cent in the year to May, when there was a spike of 43,869 in a month, and that people are 3.8 times more likely to stopped if they are black.
Chair Yvette Cooper said analysis showed 10,000 of those searched in May were young black males, aged between 15 and 24, and more than 8,000 of those weren’t found to be carrying, or doing, anything requiring further action.
She said between 70,000 to 80,000 of London’s population is in that demographic, suggesting one in 10 young black men were stopped and searched, with nothing found, in the capital in May.
Dame Cressida, the UK’s most senior police officer, said she was not ‘alarmed’ by the figures but is ‘alert’, adding that the positive outcome rate – where further action is required – is the same whatever a person’s ethnicity.
She rejected claims the Met is ‘institutionally racist’ and described her officers as the ‘most diverse bunch of people you can imagine’.
The commissioner said: ‘They say to me they find it odious to be accused of, as they feel it, personally as being racist. They hate that, they say you just won’t see it on my team.
‘But they do understand there’s some misunderstandings, that there’s some connections that aren’t being made, that people are angry about things and they want to make the relationships better.
‘But they want to save lives and they want to save, amongst of course everybody else, they really want to save black lives and they care about that.’