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London Mayor Sadiq Khan finally calls for overhaul of Gang Matrix that discriminates black boys

In 2019 I published my book, ‘Black British Problems’ which attempts to un-layer the issues behind knife crime, gang violence and black boys. In the book, I raise awareness about the gang matrix set up by the Met police and disproportionately discriminates against young black men.

The subject of the Lammy review in 2017, the so-called Gang Matrix, records details of young men who are stopped and searched, regardless of their involvement (or lack of) in crime, resulting in young black men being criminalised, and resulting in young people unknowingly being recorded on the police database without justification.

The new Met Commissioner has now vowed to remove 65% of black people from the Metropolitan’s Police Gang Matrix, but many remain trapped in the “discriminatory” system.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced that more than 1,000 black people with little to no evidence of links to criminal gangs, had already been removed from the database in 2021 and Met Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that he will do more to overhaul the system.

Image credit: Powell and Barns Media

Speaking to the Guardian, the Police Chief said:

“Sadly, there is a reality that levels of violent crime do disproportionally affect young black men – both in terms of victimisation and offending – and our tactics do need to be targeted so we can protect those most at risk.” Adding:

“It is not appropriate that the matrix further amplifies this disproportionality. As an immediate response, we are removing all the lowest-risk individuals. This represents 65%, or more than 1,100 people.”

The revamp was prompted following the 2017 Lammy Review, led by Labour MP David Lammy, shed a light on the disturbingly growing numbers of young Black men in the Matrix compared to their likelihood of offending or their chances of being a victim.

The revamp is part of Sadiq Khan’s attempts to build trust in Black communities in London after admitting that “Black Londoners have less trust in the Met.”

Image credit: Powell and Barns Media

Speaking publicly, Mr Khan said: “We know that gang-related violence still accounts for a significant proportion of the most serious violence in London and the matrix is a necessary enforcement tool and a means to support and intervention.

“But it’s vitally important that the police continue to evaluate, improve and communicate how it is used to address concerns from communities about the disproportionate number of black Londoners and young men on the Matrix.”

In 2017, the system had 3,881 people recorded. By time the Matrix revamp began, 600 Black men under the age of 25, who were recorded on the system had already been removed, accounting for an 11% decrease.

Today the system has 1,933 individuals representing a 49% drop ,but anti-racism campaigners told reporters that the progress was “long-overdue” as they call for the system to be “dismantled in its entirety”.

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s Military, Security and Police Director, said: “We sounded the alarm over the Met Police’s racist Gangs Matrix years ago, so this review is welcome but long overdue.

“Stigmatising young black men on the basis of the music they listen to, their social media behaviour or who they are associated with is completely unacceptable, damaging numerous people’s lives and further damaging trust in the institution of policing itself”.

Have you been affected by Police discrimination? Talk to us.

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