Millions detained without bail – study

By Stewart Seto

BBC News

Many young Asian men are sent to prison in England and Wales because they did not have enough money for bail A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission says poor, young black and Asian men in the UK are disproportionately stopped and searched by police. It blames a “market” for drugs, in which their competitors push the “shiny new mobile phones, or “kerb chains”, into their territory. But it also accuses police of a cavalier attitude to the rights of suspects who are held in custody. Addressing the police at a recent conference in London, the commission’s Trevor Phillips said: “How many months would you put up with arresting somebody who was evading a driving ban because they didn’t have enough money for bail?” From 2001, Scotland Yard’s strategic firearms command carried out over a quarter of all armed police operations in England and Wales. The number has remained fairly static since then, while the number of officers has fallen by 10%. The arrival of his new colleagues last year provided the keynote speaker at a London Police Chiefs’ Council conference, held in May this year. Brutal force The gunmen are easier to spot and get an intelligence-led approach is better

But a letter from Michael Gove MP, who is the Conservatives’ shadow home secretary, indicated an unease with the tactics. He said the police, particularly the Metropolitan Police, should take a “no-prisoners” approach to dealing with the problem. Kevin Sharkey, chair of the London Police Federation said: “What we have seen in recent years is a sharp increase in knife crime. “We have also seen the number of firearms use by police go up too.” Although a first in a Labour manifesto in 1997, the issue was certainly an area the party could point to when asked to justify its support for the human rights of terrorism suspects. But the question now was about the impact of police priorities, especially in London, where knife crime had become the most common weapons. The police say that they simply make an arrest, and if there is evidence then they follow up the case. ‘Want to buy dope’ New to Parliament in 2008 was Tory’s David Davis, now shadow home secretary. At the time, he threatened to break the tabling time on the murder of 12-year-old Damilola Taylor if police did not tell him why they were stopping and searching people in particular. I think what Mr Davis may have been suggesting was that if you have a 12-year-old being murdered, you shouldn’t be stopping his friends on the way to school

Kevin Sharkey, chair of the London Police Federation “We have to be a bit careful about branding everyone a drug dealer unless you’ve got clear evidence,” he said. Mr Sharkey says police should have the power to refuse to stop and search if they have any reason not to. “I think what Mr Davis may have been suggesting was that if you have a 12-year-old being murdered, you shouldn’t be stopping his friends on the way to school. But police have told the BBC it is too difficult to do this – because the reason they stop you, is because they have reason to believe you have been carrying drugs and it might be evidence of a crime.” But in one of their preferred methods of gathering intelligence on drug activity, they do opt to stop some pedestrians who are acting suspiciously in certain areas. ‘Mug the mugs’ Kevin Sharkey told the BBC: “I think it would be reasonable to ask police to point at a space in the street where they believe there is an issue of drug dealing. “Or, if there is drugs in a vehicle, they can find some important document they need to continue with the investigation.” Mr Sharkey added that if there was no car, it was a sign of a person who had stopped going near drugs. “I think that’s a reasonably reasonable challenge and a reasonable thing to do. “I think what they should do is use the power, if they have it, to make observations of the person. “And if they are selling drugs then make an arrest. “If they are not selling drugs they can walk off with their dignity intact.” Robin Kelly, the chief constable of Thames Valley Police, whose officers told the BBC they were briefed to go after anyone in a car as “a mug the mugs” speaks for many in senior police ranks. He said: “Police officers are human beings and will make mistakes. “But what I do believe strongly is that an officer’s behaviour will be proven by the evidence.”

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