English police & judicial system at war with Britain's Black communities

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Lee Jasper, the first Black Policing Director for London and former member of the London Criminal Justice Board has spent the majority of his life campaigning against the racism of the British criminal justice system in an attempt to improve black community police relations. Lee offers his insights into the recently published Ministry of Justice Statistics on Race and Criminal Justice 2012 report and the Release report.

Black British citizens are being deliberately targeted in an ongoing and unprecedented campaign of criminalisation.

A report by Release entitled “The Numbers in Black and White: Disparities in the Policing and Prosecution of Drug Offences in England and Wales” shows how the forces such as the Metropolitan Police use stop and search to unfairly target black people. They are 70 percent more likely to be charged and appear in court for possession of Cocaine than white people arrested for the same amount and same offences.

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. I believe that they unfairly target black youth, sucking them en masse, into a system of criminal justice that routinely discriminates against black people on an industrial scale.

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. This is 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.

It appears that racism is getting worse. Gone are the colour bar signs and the crude racist violence of the past. Yet one of the most pernicious aspects of modern racism is the Government’s 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 opportunity have come to define modern day racism.

This appalling abuse of 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.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary recently published a report on the use of Stop and Search and 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.”

Another publication by the Ministry of Justice on Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2012 found that nationally the use of Stop and Search has increased by 7% since 2010.

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 who have been subjected to the use of this power.

The most cited reason for use of the power recorded by Police officers is drugs. The “war against drugs” as the Release report demonstrates can be seen by some as a proxy for a war against black people.

The 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.

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.

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 moratorium of Black people joining the Police service.

What do we do now?

What is required now is to get these important facts out into the wider community. A meeting is taking place at Portcullis House Westminster, London Weds 11th December 6 - 8pm 19 Committee Room 19. Nearest Tube Westminster.

If you’re interested in coming along, RSVP me lee-jasper@live.com

Lee Jasper

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