Knife Crime, Stop & Search and Racial Profiling

We recently received an email from a listener in relation to some comments made in our recent round up episode, in which we were essentially bemoaning the fact that black people are statistically much more likely to be stopped & searched by the police in London. In 2016/17 you were four times more likely to be subject to a stop & search if you were black compared to a white person.

The listener's question was simple - If the vast majority of knife crime in London is perpetrated by black youths and is targeted at black youths, then why not target the group where the problem is?

We have decided to share our reply to this listener below in order to further explain our position & the data which has led us to that position. We are always delighted to receive feedback & engage with our audience so if any of you ever have similar questions please get in touch.

"In terms of racial profiling/stop & search as a solution to the problem of knife crime in London, we should probably have covered this in a bit more depth and in response to you emailing us we’ll definitely give it a brief revisit at the start of the next episode.

Essentially, our opinion is that stop and search, particularly racially focused stop and searches, have a proven track record of not solving the issue of knife crime and/or violent crime. In 2005 a United Nations report concluded that Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world. Excluding murder, you were three times more likely to be assaulted in Scotland than America & 30 times more likely than in Japan.

The Scottish government set up the VRU (violence reduction unit) which sought to tackle violent crime as a public health issue rather than a crime issue. The police work together with health, education & social work units to address areas and individuals with violent crime problems.

Between 2006 & 2011 40 children & teenagers were killed in knife attacks. Between 2011 & 2016 that number was down to 8. In Glasgow, our particular part of the world, that went down from 15 between 2006 & 2011 to zero between 2011 & 2016. In 2017 of the 35 children or teenagers stabbed to death in the UK none occurred in Scotland.

So there are stats to show that a different approach can work (I’ll attach a few articles at the end of this mail). We aren’t suggesting stop & search doesn’t have a place & a role in fighting these issues - in Glasgow in particular this campaign kicked off with a 3 month intense stop & search blitz to discourage knife carrying before drastically reducing the number of stop & searches carried out - we are just saying that as a stand alone solution, and particularly a race focused one, it has been proven not to work.

In particular racial profiling can cause major issues between law abiding innocent members of black & asian communities and leads to a distrust of police in general. I can completely understand why an individual policeman would be more likely to stop and search a black/asian person based on black youth statistics but when stats and evidence show it doesn’t work a different & more diverse approach is obviously required. Research is what NAFNC has always been about and sometimes this throws up information which is counter-intuitive. Basically violence is much more explicitly linked to poverty & education than it is to race, and both white and black youngsters have no statistical difference in instances of violent crime when matched for income & level of education. The police can’t fix a problem like that on their own. The major issue here is that the UK government continue to cut budgets for police, healthcare & education which just makes these problems worse.

I hope this answers your question, feel free to drop us a line any time.

Peace out,

Gerry & Paul





Gerry McCann