Home About Andrew Sutton Coldfield Articles Local In the Press What your MP can do for you Contact Gallery

Stop and Search

Andrew Mitchell writes for The Times...

During my difficulties in September 2012 my wife Sharon, a GP in Islington, was understandably nervous about how her colleagues might react when she returned to work after “Plebgate”, on account of the apparently vile way her husband had allegedly behaved. This was before the truth emerged courtesy of Channel 4.

Thankfully the reality was very different. The wonderful Afro-Caribbean and other multi-racial professionals who work in her practice hugged her and said: “We know Andrew would not speak to the police like that. This happens to our children all the time. Now you know what it is like.”

Then her staff proceeded to tell her countless stories of what happened to their families just because of the colour of their skin. As an elected politician I am ashamed of having not fully understood the truth of this before. I understand it now.

Excessively broad stop and search powers, in particular, have proven not only ineffective but discriminatory. With figures showing that ethnic minorities are far more likely to be singled out, it’s no surprise that the confidence of these communities in British policing is so low.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, which swept up peaceful protesters but never foiled a single terrorist, is no more, thanks to a successful legal challenge by Liberty, but the law still allows police to stop and search people, without suspicion, via section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

In 2011-12 Asian or Asian British people accounted for nearly 17 per cent of such stops; black or black British people nearly 36 per cent. The situation has only worsened since the Macpherson Inquiry into Stephen Lawrence’s death: black people are 27 times more likely to be affected than their white counterparts.

Is this really the way we wish to police our nation? How can young people’s trust in the police be restored when so many of them have had only bad experiences? Stop and search stands out as perhaps the biggest source of resentment towards the police today.

Enough is enough. It’s time we took responsibility and made stop and search without suspicion a thing of the past. The British Police were founded by Robert Peel on a uniquely British formula: the police are the public and the public are the police. That means all the public: all the people from every community.
This article was first published in The Times on 23rd January 2014 | | The Times (£)

Search this site

Project Umubano

Rwanda Social Action Project

Click on image to download the Kigali Declaration and the 10 Year Report.