Our values will prevail in the fight against terrorism and extremism
Thank you, Alexander, for that thoughtful and inspiring speech.
It’s difficult for most of us here in this hall to really appreciate the effects of stop and search. You see, most of us are white. Most of us are of a certain age. Well, we’re certainly not teenagers anymore. But imagine walking home, or driving to work one day, and being stopped by the police. Imagine, having done nothing wrong, you are patted down, you have your pockets turned inside out, and your possessions examined. Imagine you ask why you’re being searched and you’re told it’s “just routine” even though the police need “reasonable grounds for suspicion” that you’ve broken the law. Imagine growing up and the indignity of this happening to you twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty or sixty times. And imagine what it’s like to feel, deep down, that this is only happening because you’re young, male and black.
Properly conducted, stop and search is a legitimate and useful police power, but figures gathered by the police themselves bear out the experiences of young men like Alexander. Only about ten per cent of stop and search incidents lead to an arrest. If you’re black you’re six times more likely to be stopped than if you’re white. And according to the Inspectorate of Constabulary, 27 per cent of stops are carried out without the “reasonable grounds for suspicion” required by law. That means more than a quarter of a million stops carried out last year were probably illegal.
This is hugely damaging to public confidence in the police. It’s a dreadful waste of police time.