Senior Metropolitan Police officers have been accused of telling “lies” while defending Stop and Search powers which have been the subject of allegations of victimisation of BAME communities in London.
The accusation came from Great Okosun, from Account, a Hackney-based social action project, who was speaking at a meeting between police, councillors and community activists organised by Hackney Council.
Okosun condemned the words of police representatives at the meeting: “All I have been hearing in this call from those who are representatives of the Police are lies” he said. “It seems like you choose not to take any responsibility for the actions that are being made.”
Hackney’s councillors argued that there was a need for tangible change in the way Stop and Search is conducted. “Words are cheap,” said Councillor Sharon Patrick, Chair of the Scrutiny Commission. “How are the young people who live in Hackney who feel abused and traumatised by the police through stop and search…going to see a difference?”
Sal Naseem, London regional director for the Independent Office for Police Conduct said that although “Stop and Search is a necessary tool” he felt that “for members of the black community in particular…it corrodes their trust and confidence in their relationship with the Metropolitan Police”.
Commander Catherine Roper, Head of Profession, Crime Prevention, Inclusion and Engagement at the Met, responded to the criticism by outlining plans to “bring the community of London into the heart of what we do.”
“It’s a cultural shift, not just about doing more stuff” she said. An “increased scrutiny procedure for use of force” would be trialed in Hackney, with all practices aiming to “inject empathy into what can be sometimes quite transactional experiences” between the police and the public.
Toyin Agbetu, a Community Educator for the Pan-African human rights organisation Ligali, told Eastlondonlines: “Overall, the Metropolitan Police remains institutionally racist, especially in the manner it fails to hold officers to account for their overzealous use of violence.”
“Last month Hackney Police officers conducted 10 stops of children aged between 10-14, and we still don’t know why or what was the outcome. Until officers are held to account for practices like this, especially when they go wrong, then racist policing will continue to result in terrorising another generation of African children and parents who will grow up not only distrusting the police, but also despising them.”