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This weekend was an opportunity for many of us to enjoy the first flushes of the springtime weather, but for one of our trainers, Timi MJ (aka Mr Moneyjar), a simple bicycle ride escalated into an unwarranted stop and search situation.
In a powerful Instagram post which I urge you to read, Timi detailed his experience of being stopped by London policemen. They singled him out in a busy park, violated his legal rights, and rummaged through his wallet.
Timi’s story is upsetting, and unfortunately, it’s a common one. Young Black males in London are 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched. Overall, Black people are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to White people in the UK.
A persistent issue in policing is the disproportionate use of force on Black people, and sadly stories like Timi’s are all too familiar. Despite calls for less bias in policing and movements like Black Lives Matter becoming headline news, we are still left with the problem of discriminatory policing.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently unveiled a £6m fund towards the development of the Violence Reduction Unit, which aims to tackle the root causes of violent crime. His political opponent, Shaun Bailey, is promising more police on the streets to tackle violent crimes if he’s elected as the capital’s mayor. The government is also seemingly in favour of more policing.
As our policymakers openly express more support for police, they need to consider how these laws could impact the Black community. It is unjust for the Black community to bear a greater burden of increased police presence, especially in London, where most of the country’s Black population lives. It also sets a dangerous precedent for the policing of Black people in the capital and beyond.
In these attempts to resolve the complex crime issues, Black people are increasingly put at risk of injustice and harm. Timi’s experience is one example of how innocent Black people are targeted by the Metropolitan police. Increased policing without racial sensitivity will only create a situation where nobody wins.
The potential danger from increased policing, without the check of widespread racial sensitivity practices across London's police force, is more insidious than the Home Office’s past attempts to relate to the Black community through chicken boxes. If we don’t seek an alternative model, this intensified policing will lead to even more dangerous situations for Black people who interact with the London police. We must look beyond worsening existing patterns and practices, towards a criminal justice system that is worthy of the values it purports to uphold.