Police have made no apologies for stop and search tactics that mean more black people are stopped than any other ethnicity in Hackney. They also claimed young people were happy to be stopped if they knew an operation was “intelligence-led”.
Speaking at a council meeting on Monday night, Hackney Police’s Chief Inspector of Operations Simon Crick gave figures that showed black people and young people were far more likely to be targeted than anyone else.
According to the police, in the past three months a total of 1,237 people have been stopped and searched in Hackney. 645 (52 per cent of the total) were black and 607 (49 per cent) were aged 18-25.
23 percent of Hackney residents are black (a further 3.2 per cent are mixed race) according to the 2011 census.
Chief Inspector Crick said that as gang violence was mainly “black on black”, there was a “need to target those areas”.
“I make no apologies for that,” he added.
58 per cent of people stopped were not Hackney residents and 815 people were searched for drug related reasons.
Hackney has the fifth highest arrest rate in London, with nearly one in five (18.4 per cent) people arrested as a result of being stopped by police.
Chief Inspector Crick said the borough police were “in a very good place when it comes to stop and search” and added that residents generally did not react negatively when stopped and searched.
“The feedback I get is that the youth are very happy to be stopped and searched if it’s intelligence-led,” he said.
His comments were slammed as “astonishing” by anti-racism campaigners.
Ken Olende, a spokesperson for Stand Up to Racism, told Hackney Post: “I found it remarkable to be honest, he seems to be missing the point about what we mean by there being a distortion in the figures based on race.”
“It’s very worrying that we still have a situation where black people are stopped disproportionately and he seems to be saying that they ‘don’t mind’.”
In February 256 black people were stopped and 52 arrested, 174 white people were stopped, 29 of whom were arrested.
Chief Inspector Crick also said he expected to see a gradual rise in stop and searches in Hackney in the coming year, despite Home Secretary Theresa May’s waning enthusiasm for the scheme.
But Mr Olende argued that history showed that the policy was ineffective.
He said: “The experience has been that stop and search has been a particularly ineffective way of solving crime. It’s a way that the police have always liked. But it’s not a way that has solved the situation.”
Under Home Secretary Theresa May the number of stop and searches being carried out in London has been falling. She has also criticised the excessive nature of its use. But police have defended the policy.
Photo: Tony Austin