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‘It breaks down trust’: Stop and search across Brent on the rise

PUBLISHED: 17:28 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:28 01 February 2020

Police have doubled down on the use of stop and search in London. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

Police have doubled down on the use of stop and search in London. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

PA Archive/PA Images

More than 6,700 on-the-spot searches took place on the streets of Brent in 2019 - but police took action against fewer people.

Last year Metropolitan Police officers used their powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1989 to stop and search members of the public 8,947 times in Hackney.

The rise, compared to 7,301 incidents the year before, is part of a London-wide surge in uses of the controversial power.

In Brent it also became less effective. Last year just 24 per cent of searches led to some kind of action being taken, compared to 28pc the year before.

Officers searched people for drugs 5,658 times in the borough, and caught 1,385 people carrying drugs.

Officers carry out a stop and search on a man who avoided going through a knife arch. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireOfficers carry out a stop and search on a man who avoided going through a knife arch. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Another 154 people were found carrying knives or bladed weapons. On 13 occasions, the person officers searched was carrying a gun.

In total police made 1,044 arrests as a result of searches and 336 people were later slapped with a penalty charge notice, or a court summons.

A Met Police spokesperson said: "Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Metropolitan Police Service. One homicide, one stabbing, one violent incident is one too many.

"The rise in stop and search is a response to the increase in levels of violence and is part of our ongoing efforts to prevent crime, reduce injuries and save lives."

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Across London uses of stop and search by the Met leapt from 151,509 in 2018 to 268,432 in 2019.

But the number of searches that led to no further action increased from 71pc to 75pc.

Katrina Ffrench, CEO of UK-wide charity StopWatch, said the organisation was "concerned" by the rise.

She added: "In reality [stop and search] is mostly used for low-level drugs offences.

"Police are adamant that stop and search saves lives, but we have argued that actually when over-used, it breaks down trust and confidence in communities."

She also raised concerns about some demographics being over-targeted.

In Brent, the majority of people searched - in 4,631 incidents - were black.

This was the case even though the proportion of the 2,153 white people searched who were found carrying something incriminating was higher: 25pc, compared to 22pc of people described as black.

Ms Ffrench added: "The grounds used to stop black people seem to be at a lower threshold and the ethnic disparity has been there all along."

In response the Met said stop and search was carried out based on "intelligence", adding: "Knife crime and street violence in the capital disproportionately affects boys and young men, particularly of African-Caribbean heritage, in terms of victims and perpetrators."


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