Black people are living with the “fear of being accused” by the police of crimes they haven’t committed, according to the mother of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence. Speaking to the BBC on the 15th anniversary of the Macpherson report which found the Metropolitan Police “institutionally racist”, Baroness Doreen Lawrence said she feels that although there have been signs of improvement, the police’s attitude towards racism “hasn’t changed much”. Lawrence said that while the report has made a difference and allowed people to be open about racism in a way that they had not before, ultimately “people believe they can still get away with racism, especially within the police”.
- You can read Glenn MacMahon HERE on a lack of political will on stop and search and Stop and Search Legal Project‘s Know Your Rights workshops.
- You can see Glenn talking to Azeem, one of the participants from a SSLP workshop in the video above. Azeem is from an estate in Hackney.
- You can read the Stop and Search: Know your rights guide below (thanks to Tuckers Solicitors) HERE
- Sketch by Isobel Williams HERE.
Members of the black community were also still being unfairly singled out to be stopped and searched by the police, Baroness Doreen Lawrence told the BBC. She added that black people felt pressured into making sure their bags are visibly closed when shopping, so that they are not wrongly accused of shoplifting.
“That threat and that fear is still there,” she said.”‘Why should you be stopped because of the colour of your skin?” Stephen Lawrence’s brother Stuart said that as a young black man in London there is an expectation that you’re going to be stopped and searched. He explained that he has been stopped by police officers around 25 times – with one officer saying it was because he was “naturally suspicious” of him.
Metropolitan Police commander Mark Chishty said that although stop and search was a necessary part of the police’s job, “radical” steps have been taken to improve how it is implemented and it’s use has been cut by 40% over the last two years. As well as this, the use of section 60 – which allows an officer to stop and search a suspect without any reasonable suspicion – has been reduced by 90%. He told the BBC that the force is using the stop and search power in a “much more thoughtful and focussed way”.
When asked about the police shooting of Mark Duggan, Baroness Lawrence said: “When it comes down to a black person being killed it seems as if its more acceptable and no body raises an eyebrow.”
Author: Tom Wright
News writer for The Justice Gap and student journalist at the University of Winchester