The practice of police stopping and searching pedestrians increases crime rates, according to a report released Tuesday by a British charity.
Published by charity StopWatch, the report looked at the experience of Londoners targeted by the London Metropolitan Police for searches. The charity said it found evidence suggesting stop and search tactics can push otherwise law-abiding citizens into crime.
“I’ve got a conviction because I was stopped and searched three times in one day,” one Londoner said in an interview featured in the report. The unnamed interviewee said he had been stopped and searched hundreds of times.
“Now, if you’re stopped and searched three times in one day how are you going to feel?” he asked.
He continued, “I flipped, I got done for public disorder and I was thinking I haven’t actually done nothing, you have stopped me three times in one day.”
'As a black former detective, I know that extending stop and search powers could drag us back to the bad old days' https://t.co/x9sO1p6jkQ— Y-Stop (@YStopUK) September 5, 2018
The report stated the interviewee was listed in the London police’s Gang Violence Matrix. The matrix lists suspected gang members and scores them on how dangerous they’re suspected to be. According to StopWatch, the information is shared across government agencies, including with public service providers like housing and schools and job centers.
Another interviewee said the matrix had left him unable to find work.
“I’ve applied for so many jobs within the youth sector, and they’ve told me that when they do like a [Criminal Records Bureau] check, they told me that I’m on a ‘watch.’ But they don’t say exactly what it is,” he said.
StopWatch Chief Executive Katrina Ffrench said the gangs matrix leaves targets “marked out for harassment and humiliation,” including through stop and search.
“Not only is the matrix completely ineffective at combating the crime it claims to want to tackle, our research suggests it makes crime more likely,” she said, according to The Guardian.
Around 3,800 people are currently listed in the gangs matrix, though the Metropolitan police have stated inclusion is always based on at least two confirmed pieces of intelligence.
According to the BBC, a police spokesperson stated the matrix has helped “prevent young lives being lost.”
Amnesty International, however, has warned the matrix “routinely” includes individuals with no connection to violent crime. In May, the human rights group issued its own report on the matrix, and concluded the program used “racially discriminatory” practices that overwhelmingly targeted “young black males.”
“The entire system is racially discriminatory, stigmatizing young black men for the type of music they listen to or their social media behavior, and perpetuating racial bias with potential impacts in all sorts of areas of their lives,” said Kate Allen, Amnesty International U.K.’s director.
People of color are also the main targets of stop and search tactics, according to StopWatch.
“Black people are searched at almost 5 times the rate of whites,” the charity found.
The Metropolitan police have previously stated they’re working with human rights groups like Amnesty to improve their practices.