Black British citizens are being deliberately targeted in an ongoing and unprecedented campaign of criminalisation. Lee Jasper reports
Black British citizens are being deliberately targeted in an ongoing and unprecedented campaign of criminalisation
This strategy is carried out by British Police officers under the pretext of policing drug crimes and then executed on the streets by abusing their powers of Stop and Search. They unfairly target black youth, sucking them en masse, into a system of criminal justice that routinely discriminates against black people on a industrial scale.
This consequence of this silent, stealth like war against British black communities can be seen on our streets every single day. Stand for long enough on any British street in any reasonably diverse British city and you will see Police officers relentlessly stopping black people.
Nationwide, the main delivery agent of black people into the criminal justice system is the Metropolitan Police Service.
The Mets main operational policing focus is to target black youth in a London wide Stop and Search dragnet that captures and feeds huge numbers of young people into a criminal justice system that punishes them again and again, simply for having the audacity of being Black and British.
The issue raised here, of course applies to all black communities right across the country, however the vast bulk of the problem resides in our capital city. The Metropolitan Police Service undertakes over 42% of all Stop and Searches conducted in England and Wales.
Whether in London, Birmingham or Manchester, Black communities are witnessing the return of the era of mass criminalisation, last seen in the dark days of the SUS law.
I believe racism in Britain is getting worse. Gone are the colour bar signs and the crude racist violence of the past. Yet one of the most pernicious aspect of modern racism is that Government failure to tackle institutional racism that has led to a systemic and pervasive culture of discrimination that denies access to genuine equality and economic opportunity . Inequality, poverty, job discrimination, economic exclusion and access to opportinity have come to define modern day racism.
The resultant culture’s of fear, oppression, unfairness and injustice can be detected in Government policies and the hugely disproportionate outcomes experienced by Black people and ethnic minorities,.
This is particularly true in the arena of law and order. This has long been a historical problem for our community however in the context of increasing austerity we have seen massive rises in the numbers of black people arrested and charged with criminal offences. The onset on privatisation of large parts of the criminal justice system has allowed the profit motive to dominate to such an extent, as is the case in the United states, that we are now seen as nothing more than ‘commodities’, the raw material needed to meet crime targets and fill jails.
Just like Slave plantations of old we now provide a growing prison based economy with the fuel it needs to generate massive profits in the increasingly lucrative private public sector prison industries.
The main conveyor belt into the criminal justice system for the majority of our people is Stop and Search. The overwhelming focus of Policing on poor black communities sows a bitter harvest for us however such racism reaps it own reward for the Police, politicians and criminal justice practitioners.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabularies have both highlighted serious concerns re the Police use of Stop and Searches powers.
These appalling abuse of this invasive power has led to the collapse of Black and ethnic minority trust and confidence in the Police and was cited as one of the reasons for the 2011 August disturbances after the Metropolitan Police killing of Mark Duggan.
Since 2008 Stop and Search has increased in London by 200,000 the majority of this targeted at Black and Asian particularly Muslims.
Such is the scale of this increase over the last five years that is my simple contention that we have now reached the maximum pain threshold we can endure in relation to oppressive Policing and injustice
I have written previously on the dangerously low level's of trust between Black communities and the Police. What these figures tell us is that the current the level of trust and confidence between the Police and Black communities is at the lowest level ever recorded.
The sheer scale of criminalisation we are currently experiencing is further evidenced in a number of important reports I would urge you to read.
One is a report by Release Drugs Charity entitled: The Numbers in Black and White: Disparities in the Policing and Prosecution of Drug Offences in England and Wales.
This report demonstrates that the policing and prosecutions of drug possession offences in England and Wales are unfairly targeting Black people.
The report looks how racism influences Stops and Search, arrests, prosecution and sentencing rates. It concludes that the UK drug laws are the major driver for the gross racial disproportionally that exists in our criminal justice system.
Put simply the report shows the forces such as the Metropolitan Police uses Stop and Search to unfairly target black people, who are twice as likely (50%) than white people to be charged with possession of Cannabis as opposed to being cautioned. That is bad enough but it gets worse.
We are 70% more likely to be charged and appear in court for possession of Cocaine than white people arrested for the same amount and same offences.
For drug offences the majority of white people receive cautions rather than being sent to court. For Black people the reverse is true. That is the real nature of institutional racism in Britain.
And all this despite the fact that Black people being less likely to use drugs than whites. The disparity is startling.
In the last five years literally hundreds of thousands of black people have been unnecessarily stopped and searched. Many are then arrested, charged sent to court for minor drug offences in stark contrast to their white counterparts who are much more likely to be arrested and cautioned i.e. not sent to court. So over time, we can see how this process of criminalisation works and poisoning the future of our young people and destroying lives.
And that's only what we know about from the Government data they provide. I suspect that the reality is, that the majority of Stop and Searches are not recorded.
Home Office research on the recording of Stop & search concluded that;
“…that only about one-third of stop and search encounters were recorded.”
Her Majesties Inspectorate of Constabulary recently published a report on the use of Stop and Search
They asked the public what they thought about the Police use of the power
“ Interestingly, a quarter of respondents believed that certain groups of people in society are likely to be stopped and searched more often than others, with a third attributing this to unlawful discrimination (this figure increased to around 55% among black and minority ethnic respondents)”
After inspecting forces Stop and Search data they found,
“An alarming 27% (2,338) of stop and search records examined by HMIC did not contain reasonable grounds to search people, even though many of these records had been endorsed by supervisors. They were not fulfilling their duties according to the code of practice.”
In relation to the veracity of the data provided by the Police they concluded,
“ We were not able to assess the true level of under-recording, as the carrying out of a stop and search is, in the vast majority of occasions, known only to the searcher and the searched."
Another recent publication by the Ministry of Justice on Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2012
This report demonstrates that nationally the use of Stop and Search has increased by 7% since 2010.
To give you a sense of the sheer scale of the hidden process of criminalisation of our community here are some truly frightening numbers.
Since 2008 a massive 814,000 Black people have been subjected to this dragnet power, 523,000 Asians and 158,000 people of mixed heritage. That is a staggering 1.5m Black and ethnic minority peoples have been subjected to the use of this power.
The arrest rate during that time has fluctuated but on average has remained at around 10%. The remaining 90% though released by the Police will be subjected to on going repeated Stop and Searches.
The most cited reason for use of the power recorded by Police officers is drugs. The “war against drugs” as the Release report demonstrates is a proxy for a war against black people.
Another recent Ministry of Justice report published very quietly, contains a killer fact that hits the nail on the proverbial head and clearly demonstrates what happens to Black people when they end up in British courts.
They found that British judges and magistrates are consistently handing out lenient sentences to white offenders and routinely handing out heavier sentences to Black and Asian people.
This disgusting reality demonstrates the collusion of racist policing and a racist justice system where black communities are forced to witnessed our young people being routinely and unfairly criminalized as offenders, unfairly sentenced if found guilty, then thrown into jail for longer than their white counterparts committing similar crimes.
This reports shows that Black and Asian defendants are almost 20 per cent more likely to be sent to jail than those who are white. This despite the fact that white defendants committed more crime and have much longer criminal records.
The Independent Newspaper one of the only major British newspapers to cover this report stated,
“Disturbingly, in every year studied, a higher proportion of white defendants had previous convictions – which would normally result in a greater number of prosecutions and harsher sentences. But this does not appear to be the case.
The proportion of white criminals sentenced to immediate custody by the courts was 26 per cent while the proportion of black criminals sent to prison was 31 per cent and Asians 32 per cent. The average custodial sentence for white offenders was 15.9 months; for black prisoners it was 23.4 months.”
These reports provide hard unequivocal evidence and data about the undeniable racism, injustice and injury suffered by British black communities at the hands of both the Police and the Courts.
As a the first Black Policing Director for London, a former member of the London Criminal Justice Board and as someone who has spent the majority of my life campaigning against the racism of the British criminal justice system in an attempt to improve black community police relations, I speak with an insight, credibility and authority few can offer.
A largely white dominated media and political Westminster elite class will ignore this article dismissing its importance as representing nothing more than a fringe extremist voice seeking to prosecute a political agenda.
They, alongside some black professionals, will no doubt hope that the issues I ventilate here are nothing more than the vain and hysterical imaginings of a black activist with a huge chip on his shoulder.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In truth I despair for the future of our young black people in the UK and cannot stand idly by whilst the historical waxes and wanes of racism throughout the ages, now resurgent, reach a full flood. The truth, however unpalatable for some, is that these authoritive reports speak for themselves.
At this point I should issue a serious public health warning. These reports rely on both the Government and the Police providing the raw data. I don't trust that data and believe the reality of racism in the arena of criminal justice is in fact likely to be much worse than that outlined in these critical reports.
This is backed up by other evidence, As an activist I am constantly approached by people needing support after suffering what they believe to be unjust and racist treatment from police officers and the courts.
I am currently inundated with complaints to the point that I am personally overwhelmed, unable to help the vast majority of those who request help.
The people who are contacting me on a daily basis are Black women terrified for their sons and daughters. On the one hand there is the ever-present threat of serious youth violence and sexual criminality, but when it comes to their sons they are really petrified by the Police.
It’s the increasing frequency of these tragic realities that prove what the figures are telling us. Im of the strong view that institutional racism in terms of general society and in particular in the areas of law and order, have over the last five years been given a green light by politicians like David Cameron and Boris Johnson who reject accusations of institutional racism and have engaged in scorched earth policy in relation to British race equality policies. As a result institutional racism in Britain is resurgent, rampant and out of control.
When it comes to detecting changes in the level of racism Black women are the akin to the Canary in the coalmine. They, along with children are usually first to feel the pain. I have not known an outpouring of anger and despair, such as this, since the mid 70’s.
I genuinely believe and studies I think confirm, that relations between Black communities and the Police are the worst they’ve ever been, particularly in London.
These relations have regressed back to the hate fuelled ‘war footing’ last seen in the late 70’s early 80’s.
The majority victims of this profoundly unjust war of oppression are our own young people, left largely undefended from the overwhelming, combined forces of racial social and economic injustice, reigned against them. It is our moral duty to defend them at all costs.
These are strong words for the delicate English palate of politicians, professionals and the liberal media. No doubt there will be some black professionals who also find these comments deeply disturbing.
Some will, no doubt seek to reject my analysis as nothing more than an ill-considered, intemperate rant.
But there will be others, the silent majority of our communities who suffer in silence, ordinary hard working, everyday black people whose voices are rarely heard in the soft temperate polite circles of Westminster that will read this and cheer to the rafters.
Over the last five years institutional racism has returned with a determined and deadly vengeance threatening to eviscerate our rights to a future free of racism.
As a direct consequence of the relentless ideological political attack on all things anti racist, multiculturalism and immigrant communities by this Tory led Government, we are witnessing a return of a racism, many thought had been defeated in the wake of the publication of the seminal McPherson report.
How wrong we were.
I believe that Black people are now seen by some as nothing more than a dehumanised commodity. Racism is a function of the economy and wherever racism thrives, someone somewhere is making money.
The more the Police meet their crime targets by criminalizing black people, the more they’re jobs and promotions are assured. The more successful criminal prosecutions, the more the lawyers on both sides are paid, the more convictions are secured the more prisons we need to build and the longer we are kept in jail the more prison officers are needed. Finally the more of us that are criminalised the more we remain weak, undermined and oppressed,
When we go to jail everybody gets paid. Thats the indisputable fact, in the US they have a term to describe this reality, the Prison Industrial Complex.
So having won what we thought was a great victory against racism at the 1999 Lawrence Inquiry, we have seen our every advance, all our policy initiatives shelved, Black political organisations undermined.
We have witnessed Black voluntary sector forums and projects destroyed by a Tory led government, that holds an ideological hatred of anti racism, multiculturalism and progressive equality policy and reserves a very special hatred for all things Lord McPherson.
In the tragic, shattered debris of the political infrastructure of the McPherson Inquiry report and recommendations into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, we see the toxic poison of institutional racism return with unremitting force.
We all know that when you seek to combat any dangerous infection, the rule is, if you don’t take the full course of proscribed antibiotics, then it’s likely the infection will return stronger and more virulent than when first contracted.
Britain Police forces having been deeply infected by the virus of intuitional racism and having failed, as a consequence of political interference, to ingest the full course of anti racist medication have seen institutional racism return, more powerful, more rampant and more toxic than ever.
One of the key benefits of the McPherson Report was that it provided an opportunity for progressive police officers and activists from Black communities to negotiate what I have called the Post McPherson Settlement that ended the national boycott of Police engagement and the monitorium on Black people joining the Police service.
The deal was clear and simple.
The Metropolitan Police accepted the need to rout out institutional racism and working in partnership tackle racism the the ranks, the scourge of racist attacks, the abuse of Stop and Search and suspicious deaths in Police custody.
We would work with the police to tackle violent crime in the Black community. This formed the basis for the formation of Metropolitan Police’s Operation Trident; a community led policing operation that attracted worldwide recognition and plaudits.
Today Trident is a joke, having been politically hijacked by Boris Johnson and the supine Commissioner Bernard Hogan Howe. Instead of improving trust and confidence around tackling serious gun killings in London.
Trident is now London’s anti gang command. and under Boris Johnson we have seen massive rises in Stop and Search and the use of the discredited law of Joint Enterprise, the use of supergrass evidence, failure to maintain improvements in the Witness Protection programme and the shooting of Duggan have all conspired to seal its fate.
Today, Trident, the Police and politician’s reputations are shattered and destroyed and Trident and the Metropolitan Police stand in the dock for the shooting of Mark Duggan.
What do we do now?
What is required now is to get these important facts out into the wider community. That can only happen with your support and you can do this by posting, tweeting and sharing this article everywhere. Most people are not fully aware of the massive increases the rate of criminalisation of our community that have taken place of late. We need to ensure that these facts are more widely known and mobilise ourselves to challenge a racism that is destroying the future of our community.
Do not underestimate the extent to which this view will be summarily discounted and real attempts to marginalise its conclusions. I can only rely on you to help get the news out and help make this article go viral.
So concerned about this issue that I will accept invitations to speak on these issues to communities and events nationwide. It is vital that local communities begin organising public meetings to inform and mobiles to challenge the Government's refusal to tackle these fundamental human rights abuses.
Next we need a national meeting of concerned organisations that can reach a consensus on how we can place these issues on the desk of David Cameron, on the front pages of our newspapers and lead item on our broadcast news. We need a coordinated response from our community to stem this determined effort to criminalise an entire community.
That’s why I have organised an urgent meeting to take place at Portcullis House Westminster, London Weds 11th December 6 - 8pm 19 Committee Room 19. Nearest Tube Westminster.
I will also be discussing this as my lead topic on my brand new breakfast radio show on Britain’s only licensed Black commercial radio station Colourful Radio on Friday 29th November between 7am and 10am.
I would love to here your views on these issues.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
To take part in this weeks show on Colourful Radio
You Can Call Me: 0800 999 8090
Txt Me: 80818 colourful
Tweet Me: @colourfulradio
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