Council meetings

Agenda item

The Impact of the Prevent strategy and "Stop and Search" policy on community relations. - Evidence Session


4.1Jamie Keddy, Community Engagement Officer, MOPAC gave a presentation to the Committee, a copy of which will be included in the agenda documentation. During his presentation the following key points were highlighted:

·         The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was the Police and Crime Commissioner for London. MOPAC as the Mayor’s Office therefore support those duties.

·         The Met Police was the largest Police force in the UK covering 32 London boroughs and 8.7 million people.

·         MOPAC provides Police oversight and scrutinises the Police on a range of issues. In terms of stop and search, MOPAC’s role is to ensure the Police use their powers fairly, ethically and professionally. MOPAC uses the terms “Oversee; convene; deliver”.

·         MOPAC supports the Stop and Search Community Monitoring Groups. There is a strong focus on looking at the statistics on how stop and search is conducted in London. MOPAC uses the Police data dashboard and has also developed its own dashboard which they believe is easier to navigate. A major part of MOPAC’s role was about enabling community members to scrutinise the Police so developing accessible, easy to navigate statistics was really important. The site included outcome rates and was broken down by types of search such as section 60s.

·         The current structure of scrutiny at MOPAC is based around community monitoring networks and groups. The current structure has the Mayor at the top with MOPAC underneath followed by the Community Monitoring Network and under that the local community monitoring groups. The mechanisms feed up and down.

·         28 out of 32 London boroughs currently have community monitoring groups set up including Lewisham.

·         The Community Monitoring Network meetings are an opportunity for representatives from the networks to hear from senior Police officers on changes to policy etc. For example, the officer in charge of Stop and Search for London who regularly attends meetings. It is also an opportunity for local groups to feed into to London-wide policy and share the views and experiences of their local monitoring groups. The meetings take place quarterly.

·         PACE Code from 1984 Act says scrutiny needs to be provided with representatives of the local community. MOPAC have fulfilled this through the community monitoring network and the community monitoring groups. They look at issues such as grounds, stop slips, disproportionality.

·         Community Monitoring Groups are informed when a section 60 is put in place. This is help inform the local communities to help to reduce community tensions.

·         The feedback from the Community Monitoring Networks is that they generally support stop and search as long as it is targeted and intelligence led.

·         Disproportionality is a big concerns for the groups. The question that is usually asked is “why are young black men being stopped more” and the response tends to be that young black males are more likely to be involved as victims or perpetrators of serious violence. This is then followed by the question “does that give the Police the right to target young black males with stop and search and the view from the community is that “no it does not” and that is backed up by law. You can’t just stop people based on generalisations from the statistics.

·         Community Monitoring groups tend to accept that stop and search is a reality and has a place in preventing violence. However the groups often raise the importance of the “quality” of the encounter. Young people in particular can get a very negative view of the police from a poor quality of stop and search which has the potential to alienate them from the Police over a long period.

·         There was not currently much Council involvement in the Community Monitoring Network. As Council’s had a very good understanding of their local communities and of issues and concerns in their area, increasing council involvement in the monitoring network could be very positive.

·         Community monitoring groups tend to have positive relationships with their local Police. The groups have also been able to contribute to local training and pan-London training. For example there have been a number of members who have gone to Hendon to be involved in the training of local officers.

·         One of the biggest challenges was around maintaining a positive and strong relationship between the communities most affected by stop and search and the Police. Opening up pathways for engagement was important. Community engagement needed to be a key part across the borough.

·         At MOPAC there was an emphasis on increased transparency and accessibility to local communities and improving outreach work.

·         MOPAC was commissioning 40,000 “know your rights” leaflets which would go out to young people across London to help people understand their rights in relation to stop and search.

4.2       Acting Chief Superintendent Andy Carter gave a presentation to the Committee, a copy of which will be included in the agenda documentation. During his presentation the following key points were raised:

·         Performance data locally and London-wide is important and included in the presentation documentation.

·         The London context over the last few years has been of violence increasing and in particular knife crime at a time when the number of stop and searches has been falling for a number of years. The Police have been working on using stop and search in an effective way and increasing understanding of the use of stop and search as a Police tactic. 

·         The recent rise is serious violence has meant there has been an increase in stop and searches with December 2018 seeing the highest levels of stop and search across London.

·         Stop and Account had now been stopped.

·         Stop and search was a really critical tool in how the Police tackles violence and protects the local community. Last year across London stop and search resulted in over 2400 arrests for weapon offences alone.

·         The Police recognised that it was about using stop and search powers lawfully and respectfully and there is the right level of scrutiny around it.

·         The arrest rate across London was approximately 16%. The figure for Lewisham over the last 12 months was 21% therefore higher than the London average.

·         In 12 month period ending November 2018, across London there were 335 complaints from stop and searches. In Lewisham there were 39 in this period which represented a 90% fall from the previous year. Of the 39 complaints, 3 were upheld.

·         51% of the stop and searches in Lewisham over the last year were related to drugs with 25% for weapons. This is higher than London average for weapons and lower for drugs. This corresponds to feedback they received from the local community supporting more emphasis on weapons compared to drugs.

·         4352 stop and searches had been conducted in Lewisham in the last year.

·         Age profiles showed those most likely to be searched were in the 15-19 year old age category. They were predominantly male and the ethnic group most likely to be searched was Black. 

·         Lewisham invests a lot in training in the local context of stop and search and the need to conduct themselves professionally. They have also developed a local stop and search strategy. There is intense scrutiny internally and highlighting examples of good practice. Coaching is important.

·         The use of body-worn video has reduced the number of complaints, it also gives confidence to the police in carry out their duties relating to stop and search. 39 Complaints in the last 12 months only 4% have been upheld.

·         Section 60 had been a major contributing factor as to why stop and search had been increasing over the last year or two. It was a unique preventative power about stopping serious violence. It was authorised only by very senior officers of Superintendent level or above and always discussed with the Borough Commander before being implemented.

·         The power allowed searches without reasonable suspicion. Officers still needed to use their discretion.

·         The use of section 60s was scrutinised extensively through MOPAC and the monitoring boards. It was difficult to quantify the success as it was a preventative measure to stop further violence. Serious youth violence/ gang related violence, significant levels of disorder etc. are some of the grounds for using section 60s.

·         The Committee were invited to consider three scenarios and the types of challenges and time pressures the Police may face when deciding whether to use a section 60.

·         A member of the public commented that working with youth workers more effectively could help to resolve some community issues and therefore could potentially prevent the use of section 60s.

·         A member of the public commented that preventative work by schools officers on an on-going basis would also be important and could help to reduce potential conflicts.

·         A member of the public commented that working more closely with the schools involved could be more helpful. For example, in the scenario where an issue/conflict had been identified amongst pupils in particular schools they could have a method to immediately focus afternoon lessons on assemblies etc. looking specifically at the issue with the aim of reducing potential conflict.

·         A member of the committee commented that as section 60 powers were used as a preventative power it was important to consider all the other important preventative and collaborative work which was important to carry out in the local community on an on-going basis.

·         A member of public asked whether the scenarios presented would be useful for using with young people and community groups through workshops etc.

·         Jamie Keddy mentioned that there was a judgement exercise workshop that the central Police Stop and Search team ran and they invited representatives from the local community monitoring groups to take part. This had potential to be rolled out further.

4.3       Neena Samota, Stopwatch and Programme Director Criminology and Sociology, St Mary’s University, gave a presentation to the committee, a copy of which will be included in the agenda documentation. During her presentation the following points were raised: 

·         Stopwatch was a research and action organisation for fair and accountable policing. It was a coalition of academics, lawyers, community action groups, young people and civil society groups. The aim of the organisation was to promote fair, effective and accountable policing.

·         The organisation has campaigned against disproportionate use of stop and search since 2010, the use of exceptional stop and search powers and the weakening of associated scrutiny mechanisms.

·         “The Colour of Injustice” report was published by Stopwatch at the end of 2018.

·         The presentation focuses on the outcomes data from the Met Police dashboard but looks at what that means for local communities.

·         In 2013, Theresa May as Home Secretary called for a review of Police stop and search powers. This was an important point for driving more community work and having a greater understating about how these powers were used by the Police and what their impact on local communities could be and in particular BAME communities.

·         Neena Samota, also sat on the Independent Advisory Group for the Young Review looking at disproportionate outcomes for Black and Muslim men involved in the criminal justice system and had also given evidence to the Lammy Review.

·         It was a good moment to look at issues of disproportionality following the findings of these reviews.

·         2013-14 marked a highpoint in the review of stop and search powers and left some really useful changes which were welcomed at Stopwatch.

·         Nationally the use of stop and search had dropped significantly representing an almost 75% decrease in usage.

·         However, at Stopwatch they believe that the residual use of the power focusses more on policing Black and ethnic minority groups and this was therefore problematic because it was a key driver of disproportionality into the criminal justice system and thereafter the continuation of disproportionate outcomes.

·         It was useful to study the Lewisham data compared the Met average to understand what was unique and what was working well. Working with local organisations to get a good picture of the situation locally.

·         It was positive that the Safer Stronger Communities Select Committee was looking at this matter and having open meetings inviting a range of groups to better understand the local picture.

·         The reasons for stop and searches remained consistent that the primary reason was looking for drugs. At a London level this is 58.4% compared to 54.9% in Lewisham.

·         The use of section 60 powers came down dramatically after the 2013-14 review across London.

·         The rate of stop and search per 100 per ethnicity showed that if you were black you were 3.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to a white person in Lewisham December.

·         The rate per stop and search per 1000 by age was based on the 2011 census data in terms of ethnicity. It could be useful to look at the mid 2015 population estimates or even the annual population estimates to get a more accurate picture.

·         Section 23 misuse of drugs act searches per 1000 population in Lewisham also showed higher rate of searches for Black people. If you changed data to look at males only the disproportionality increased.

·         The Colour of Injustice report showed that Black people were actually less likely to consume drugs so it would be helpful to have a better understanding on these issues at a local level so as to fully understand what is happening.

·         Proportionality in relation to section 60 was where a lot of the problems were felt in relation to local community groups as it was a suspicion-less power. The Roberts Case was tested in the Supreme Court which ruled that Section 60 powers must be applied only when strictly necessary.

·         The majority of stop and searches in London and in Lewisham result in “No further action” (67.3% in Lewisham versus 70.01% in London.)

·         Positive outcomes by ethnic groups is a different picture in Lewisham showing the highest number of positive outcomes in relation to drugs was for Asian groups. In terms of positive outcomes for “going equipped” and weapons offences the highest numbers of positive outcomes were in the white and Asian groups.

·         In terms of future focus, interrogating the data and the scrutiny element is very important. And working with local community and youth groups to understand the reality behind the date.

4.4       Councillor Joani Reid, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities addressed the Committee and highlighted the following:

·         Stop and Search was a major issue for the community and people cared passionately about it.

·         The position of the Lewisham administration was that there was not a problem with the idea of “stop and search” itself but it was important to ensure it was fairly carried out.

·         In regards to the public health approach to crime and a comparison with Glasgow, the stop and search model Glasgow use is not a contentious issue for the majority of people living in Glasgow because it isn’t seen as targeting a particular group disproportionately.

·         Intelligence-led policing is important but the “reasonable grounds” in the stop and search legislation was not considered sufficient by some within the community as there were young black men who felt harassed and victimised because they are repeatedly stopped and searched.

·         Positive outcomes often result in personal drug use offences whereas the majority of the public who support intelligence-led stop and search feel there should be an emphasis on more serious crime such as knife and weapons offences. Therefore there are potentially two separate ideas about what constitute “reasonable grounds” and what it should be used for.

·         70% of stop and searches result in no further action and many members of the community were concerned by this.

·         Community-led changes were important particularly involving those most affected. The Community Monitoring Group was now starting to meet more frequently. The data they were presented with initially was not easy to navigate. The Council had supported the group with data analysis skills.

·         The Council could support the group with qualitative data as well such as helping with organising to shadow the Police etc. and analysing body-cam footage etc. This required reaching out to communities to get a cross-section of people engaged.

4.5       Essien Nosworthy, a member of the public addressed the Committee and raised the following key points:

·         Engagement was a wider issue between community and Police and the Council in general.

·         Mini Police was a national scheme which started in schools at a young age and would be a great opportunity for the Police and young people to work together to provide a positive face and role models within the Police force.

4.6       In the discussion and questions that followed, the following key points were raised:

·         The Police’s current focus with their Schools Officers was in secondary schools as they didn’t have enough resources to work in primary as well as secondary.

·         A member of the Committee raised concerns regarding the level of disproportionality and that the conversation needed to focus on what to be done next such as on-going unconscious bias training which Councillors could also partake in and observe.

·         The work should start at Primary school. A lot of people had inherited from their parents a distrust of the Police from historic policing that disproportionately targeted particular communities. Primary school would be key to changing these perceptions.

·         Regarding section 60s, a member of the committee stated that a high level of communication was really key in these circumstances and that all Lewisham Councillors should be informed when a section 60 was implemented.

·         Support for the Stop and Search Community Monitoring Group was a key issue.

·         A member of the committee raised concerns regarding the percentage of positive outcomes and that 21% was not good. Following undertaking workshops in his ward with local community members, he had been shocked by the numbers who had been stopped multiple times without being arrested and that those individuals all now felt that they wouldn’t interact or report to the Police in any circumstances including if they had been a victim of or witness to a crime. Another issue had been that all the people who had participated in the workshop were not aware that any record had been made of the stop and search, they were not given a slip and may well therefore not appear in any statistics. The complaints figures being only 39 could also be because many people did not know their rights regarding complaining or did not feel like any complaint would be fairly considered. There could therefore be issues that are not shown in the statistics presented.

·         Andy Carter informed the Committee that it was important that the Police were involved in local workshops and therefore it was concerning that many people were reluctant to engage with the Police and therefore more had to be done to ensure positive relations. He would welcome any support from the Council or local community groups on how to positively engage.

·         Jamie Keddy stated that unconscious bias training had been raised at the Community Monitoring Network meetings and the central Police Stop and Search Team in the Met Police were rolling out a lot of training in unconscious bias and also doing this for new recruits.

·         Sustained support for the community monitoring groups was important to avoid fractures and groups breaking down etc. MOPAC would be carrying out a base-lining exercise to assess where all the groups were at asking for details of group’s structures, numbers, ages of members and how they feel we can support them to get what they need.

·         The “know your rights” leaflets could be positive to help Londoners understand their rights if they are stopped and searched and what they can do if there is an issue. The aim is to reach young people in particular.

·         A member of the Committee raised the importance of increasing diversity within the Police to better reflect the communities they serve. It was also raised that many young people who the Committee members had met at the Youth Independent Advisory Group at Lewisham Police station had raised issues around how they had been spoken to or dealt with by the Police. They were not against the idea of stop and search in itself or even being stopped but they wanted to be treated fairly and with respect and politeness.

·         The data needed to be improved to help look at more evidence around outcomes and the quality. For example in more “well-to-do” neighbourhood’s people were not being stopped with such high intensity.  There was also links to the modern slavery agenda and potential disproportionality within that.

·         It was raised that it was a shame that the Prevent data was not available to look at disproportionality in respect to Prevent.

·         The mistrust of the Police was deep in certain communities and there were many interventions that were potentially needed and there was a big piece of work at a national level to be done.

·         There were many community members from all parts of the Lewisham community who supported stop and search to tackle serious violence.

·         A member of the Committee raised a concern regarding the complaints statistics across London and that only 355 complaints in London represented only 0.2% of all searches which seemed implausible low and that maybe this was indicative that the people being stopped primarily young people may not know their rights or the mechanisms for doing this. The complaint had to be made specifically against the conduct of the officer for this to be considered a complaint.

·         Close supervision of officers to ensure the best possible behaviour including challenging peers etc. was important.


4.7       RESOLVED:


That the evidence presented be fed into the review and invited expert witnesses be thanked for attending the meeting.

Supporting documents: