Prominent Labour MPs have spoken out against reports that Britain will expand the use of stop and search amidst rising knife violence, blasting the police tactic as “racist”.
Officials from the Home Office have reportedly been in talks with officers over the past two weeks to discuss police chiefs’ proposals to drop the requirement that “reasonable grounds” are needed before a suspect can be subjected to a search.
Recent reports revealed knife crime in England and Wales has soared since 2015 when then-Home Secretary Theresa May — now Prime Minister — introduced reforms to drastically cut police use of the power, which she alleged was “unfair, especially to young black men”.
However, the current Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said Monday that officers “should feel absolutely confident” to stop and search suspects irrespective of ethnic background, describing increasing knife violence as a “disease”.
“If we want to stop offending in the first place we should put ethnicity aside — it doesn’t matter if someone is black or brown or white or whatever they are,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 16, 2016
“If police think that there’s good reason that they may be carrying an offensive weapon, the police should be absolutely empowered to stop them. That’s what I want to see, that’s what the public want to see.”
Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, attacked the plans, claiming stop and search has “only poisoned relationships between young people and the police.”
In a statement issued by Labour, the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP said: “Racism is against the law and should never be tolerated. Stop and search is already too easily done on the basis of racial profiling.”
“There is no evidence that random stops reduces [sic] violent crime. In fact the surge in violent crime has gone hand in hand with brutal Tory police cuts. Our officers need more resources to keep us safe.”
Identity activist and Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, took to social media to denounce police proposals to abandon the “reasonable grounds” requirement, warning that this “would be a draconian step towards a police state”.
Seriously! Abandoning the 'reasonable grounds' condition would be a draconian step towards a police state. Stop and search is already used disproportionately against minorities. This undermines our civil liberties and encourages more abuse of those powers.https://t.co/qV2TGYGlkV
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) November 11, 2018
“Stop and search is already used disproportionately against minorities. This undermines our civil liberties and encourages more abuse of those powers,” he added.
Labour’s London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who performed a U-turn on “stop and search” earlier this year after campaigning to reduce police use of the tactic, last week said it could take ten years or more to solve knife violence after the capital saw four people stabbed to death in just five days.
Data showed knife crime to be at its highest ever level in London last month, as the mayor reacted to the deadly crimewave with the announcement that the city will treat violent crime as a “public health” issue.