Stop And Think

stopsearch.jpgIf I were Keith Jarrett’s boss I would sack him immediately. Why? Because the comments he has made this week regarding the use of stop and search have shown that he is a senior police officer who has run out of intelligent and effective ideas, and solutions, for tackling crime.

We all know that stop and search, especially when used randomly, is an ineffective practise. It’s not only ineffective (with very low rates of arrests, and even lower rates of subsequent prosecutions), but is also racially discriminatory, disproportionately affecting black people. That is, it disproportionately affects innocent people who are perceived to be criminals on the basis of their race alone.

The idea that someone is a criminal, or is more likely to be a criminal, because of their skin tone is racist, bigoted and ignorant and is not even borne out by any kind of evidence, statistic or research. I find it incredibly offensive that I, or any other law abiding person, should be subject to stop and search by the police purely because I am black and because some other black people have committed crimes.

Random stop and search has not been proven to be a good policing tactic nor has it has not been shown to reduce crime. It has been shown, however, to inflame tensions between black people and the police. It has been shown to be a practised mired in prejudice. Mr Jarrett has called for its increase without explaining exactly how it will solve gun and knife crime.

In the past, the National Black Police Association – of which Mr Jarrett is President – has been vocal in denouncing stop and search for the reasons I have listed above. Mr Jarrett has yet to tell us why an increase in the practise today would not simply lead to a repeat of the problems that he himself has always been critical of. It seems to me that he has simply run out of things to say and no has no forward thinking ideas for solving this problem.

I would prefer that Jarrett encouraged the police to do their jobs properly i.e. to work harder and use intelligence in order to specifically identify and target those who are most likely to commit such crimes. ‘Those likely to commit such crimes’ does not mean any young person who has dark skin; it means specific gangs and criminal groups, those who spend time with them and those who have been identified as likely to spend time engaging in anti-social activity with them. I would be more than happy for the police to stop and search those on whom they have specific and concrete intelligence.

The majority of crime is not committed by the majority of people. Whether it’s gun or knife crime, robberies or murder it is a very small proportion of any population – black or white – who are involved. Why encourage the police to use their already limited resources to target people who will have had absolutely no involvement in crime whatsoever? It is a total nonsense.

Yes, there is crime being perpetrated by black people against other black people. That is a real shame. But that is not my fault, or the fault of the majority of black people who are just trying to lead peaceful lives. I care about what’s going on, but I absolutely refuse to be perceived, and treated, as a criminal because of the destructive actions of a small minority of misguided people.

I’m also somewhat perturbed by Mr Jarrett’s claims that his comments reflect the thoughts of the ‘black community’. Who is this ‘black community’ that he claims to speak for? I certainly am not one of them.

Let the police focus on those actually committing crimes: those they know to be committing crime. Let them not waste their precious time on making the rest of us into criminals.

After the controversy of this week, rather than going on about stop and search, I hope Mr Jarrett takes some time to stop and think.

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2 thoughts on “Stop And Think

  1. I was at a conference of black philanthropists recently. The keynote speaker came up and basically made the point that we [progressive black folk] have to gather those around us who are on the same page and move on. I had to stop and think about that b/c it seemed to go against everything I thought about the black “community” working together. Don’t know. Maybe he’s right. Maybe you’re all right. The world is of individuals. Modern life is leading us down the path to the autonomous wo/man alone in their room, accessed to the world and all ideas. The problems of the world have got to be catered to that individual’s tastes. And since that individual’s taste will be marketed to 24/7, there will be no room for the problems of the world. The world will then have no problems. And the progressives will move on… So many folks are gonna be left behind in the next 50 years, Lola. I have to wonder about them. Don’t you? We gotta go. I’m with you and ready for the trek, but whazgonnahappen to them without the means? Aren’t they gonna eventually revolt or will we [progressive folk] have to work that much harder to suppress their [poor black folks –’cause all the ills you mention have a root in poverty, don’t they?] aggression?

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