New citizens of the United Kingdom may soon have to undergo a citizenship test, pledging their allegiance to the Queen, demonstrating their knowledge of English language and culture and quite possibly promising to cheer on the England cricket team. What they needn’t bother to do, on the other hand, is to take too much notice of the law. The Metropolitan Police Authority has declared that the police stop and search a disproportionate number of people of ethnic minority background, and that they must stop it at once. In 2002, we learn, 34 per cent of people stopped and searched were black; yet blacks make up only eight per cent of the population.
One is not, of course, allowed these days to make the point that an awful lot of London’s muggers are black. What one can point out is that a disproportionate number of victims of muggings, too, are black. If the Metropolitan Police are forbidden to stop and search any figure who might exceed their ethnicity quotas, the people who will suffer most are black victims — which is why two years ago the black newspaper the Voice appealed for more, not fewer, police stop and searches.
It is this patronising attitude and an obsession with doing things by quotas that stand in the way of a sensible race relations and immigration policy. There should be just two criteria for judging whether a migrant is a fit person to enter Britain: will he work to support himself and will he obey the law? Yet policy actively discriminates against people who can answer ‘yes’ to these questions. We try to turn away hard-working Chinese cockle-pickers who only want to better themselves, yet open the doors to Taleban asylum-seekers whom we then forbid to work while their cases are heard.
A humane immigration policy would be one that allowed in any foreign national for the purpose of seeking work but expelled on the spot any caught thieving or fiddling their taxes. But it won’t happen, because the moment the police pick up one Jamaican Yardie or one ethnic Albanian too many, all policing has to stop.