The dispute of how British police use “stop and search” powers, specifically regarding the accusations that Black people are disproportionately targeted by the police, has come into strident focus recently due to Black Lives Matter protests that are inspiring movements across the globe.
The most recent incident was reported just a few hours ago when the London police have defended smashing a man’s car window to then arrest him on suspicion of selling drugs only to find no drugs in his car after the man complained of discrimination.
A British national flag with writing on it flutters during a Black Lives Matter protest outside Tottenham police station in London, Britain. Image credit Reuters/Malay Mail
It has been estimated that Black people are over nine times more likely to be stopped and searched than their white counterparts, according to civil rights group Liberty. New data has found that black, Asian and minority ethnic drivers are the majority of those stopped for 'drug driving' in England's capital, despite being more likely to have not committed any crime.
Ryan Colaco, a rapper and Black Lives Matter supporter, had just been interviewed by Channel 4 television in May about a recent experience of being stopped and searched, only to be stopped and searched again while driving home -read the article and his comments here.
Colaco recorded the incident and posted parts of the video on social networks. In the footage, he is heard saying “why does this keep happening?” and “this can’t keep happening to me, man” before an officer smashes his car window with a baton.
The City of London Police declared that officers noticed Colaco’s car parked on the side of the road and suspected its presence was linked to the sale of drugs.
“One of the specialist officers identified behaviour from the occupant which warranted a stop and search of the man,” it claimed, without elaborating though.
The police said Colaco refused to step out of his car after several requests covering some 10 minutes, despite officers made it clear they would use force if he failed to comply.
Yet, no drugs were found in the car, which was returned to Colaco with the shattered glass still strewn inside.
Police in London. Image credit Reuters/WION
The police force said it had investigated Colaco’s complaint and found “the level of service was acceptable”, apart from the condition of the car when it was returned to him - for which it has, at least, now apologised to him.
While only 37 percent of people living in London identify as BAME, people of these backgrounds make up the majority of stop and search subjects – a disparity made clear by those speaking out against racial profiling and institutionalised racism in recent weeks.
Of those stopped in London in April and May, 72 percent of BAME drivers were released with no further action, compared to 67 percent of white drivers pulled over by police.
Unfortunately, it is young boys and men of Afro-Caribbean backgrounds that continue to be disproportionately stopped and searched by police officers, typically concerning driving a stolen vehicle or for smoking cannabis.