A former speechwriter at the Home Office has come out and said Theresa May made a statement highlighting racist undertones in police stop and search tactics partly as a political move to appeal to ‘Afro-Caribbeans’.
Alasdair Palmer, writing in The Spectator, said: “Part of the motive for doing this…was political: stop and search is a policy which consistently alienates members of the black community. I was told that it would help the Home Secretary’s standing with Afro-Caribbeans if she made a statement that was critical of the police’s use of stop and search.”
But he said research didn’t show there was a racial undertone to the searches…
“The police, the Home Office research showed, did not target particular areas for stop and search because they wanted to stop and search people of a particular ethnic group. They chose those areas because that’s where the highest amount of street crime was reported – and stop and search’s primary purpose is to diminish street crimes such as mugging and robbery,” he said.
But the government was clinging to their version of the facts – that ethnic minorities were 6 or 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police. Therefore, this must be a bit racist.
While ethnic minorities were more likely to be subjected to stop and search, Palmer insists research shows this has everything to do with police enacting stop and search in areas with a high violent crime rate, not based on race.
He said: “For instance, the police stop and search a miniscule number of women, of all races, over the age of 70. Does this show they are biased in favour of these women? Obviously not. It simply shows that the police do not receive reports that women over the age of 70 have been involved in mugging people on the streets – and therefore are not useful or appropriate targets for being stopped and searched.”
With spiralling knife and gun crime in London, and across the UK, cutting down on stop and search as a way of harvesting votes is a dangerous dereliction of duty. Even London Mayor Sadiq Khan has u-turned and is in favour of an increase in stop and search.
It’s simple – a good way of getting weapons off the streets, or deterring would-be criminals from carrying weapons, is to conduct regular searches. It’s vital for public safety.