London

Met Police 'use force more often' against black people

Metropolitan Police officers set up a stop and search operation Image copyright PA
Image caption The use of force was equivalent to once for every 50 black people in Greater London and once for every 200 of the white population

Metropolitan Police officers are four times more likely to use force against black people compared with the white population, new figures suggest.

The Met used force 62,000 times in 2017-18 with more than a third of incidents involving black people.

Techniques such as verbal instructions and using firearms were recorded.

The Met Police said: "The proportionate use of force is essential in some circumstances to protect the public and often themselves from violence."

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said the "disproportionate use of force is discriminatory".

Police forces in Britain have been required keep a detailed record of each time an officer used force since 1 April 2017.

According to the data, a black person in London is four times more likely than a white person to have force used against them by a Met Police officer, as a proportion of the population.


'Black boys have targets on their heads'

Image copyright Shereen Jones
Image caption Terrell Jones-Burton suffered seizures after being knocked off his bike by a police officer

Terrell Jones-Burton suffered seizures after being knocked off his bike in November by a Met Police officer.

"It was horrific. I thought I had lost him," Terell's mother Shereen Jones said.

The Met said the 15-year-old "came off his bicycle" and suffered facial injuries when he was stopped and arrested in Bermondsey.

Ms Jones believes her son was targeted because he is black.

She said: "If you're a black boy walking around with nice clothes you're automatically deemed a drug dealer.

"Why should I feel like, because I'm a particular colour, I'm going to be a target, like we have a mark on our head?

"It's disgusting."

The case is currently with the Independent Office for Police Conduct.


London's black population at the last census was 1,088,447. In 2017-18 the Met used force 22,989 times against black people.

Based on population figures, the use of force was equivalent to once for every 50 black people in Greater London and once for every 200 of the white population.

This is higher than in other police forces covering large urban areas such as Greater Manchester and Merseyside.

Ms Abbott said: "These figures are truly shocking. The disproportionate use of force is clearly discriminatory.

"This is not a recipe for good police-community relations

"The government should step in and demand that all forces publish this data. But, then it quickly needs an action plan to end it."


'Demonised, penalised, criminalised'

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Media captionDijon Joseph was handcuffed and forcibly searched after police saw him fist bump his brother Liam

Dijon Joseph, 28, was arrested after he bumped fists with his brother outside a shop in Deptford.

"Before I knew it a large van of police officers came out. It all happened quite abruptly," said Mr Joseph's 27-year-old brother Liam.

Police accused the pair of exchanging drugs and officers said Dijon, who filmed the encounter, was being aggressive and handcuffed him.

One officer restrained Liam, while a second rifled his pockets. Finding nothing illegal, the officer took his keys and searched his car.

Dijon said: "It just seemed like a typical case of profiling.

"I felt demonised, I felt penalised, I felt criminalised. It's not just our own perceptions, it's the perception of our community."

Liam added: "Before you can create solution it's first best to isolate and highlight the problem.

"Then we can all work together to do something to change it."

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is investigating.


The Home Office said government reforms in 2017 meant police across England and Wales now recorded the reason force was used and details about the person involved.

A spokesman added: "Data on officers' use of force will provide unprecedented transparency and accountability and, in the longer term, will also provide an evidence base to support the development of tactics, training and equipment to enhance the safety of all."


Use of force figures at a glance

  • The Met Police recorded 62,153 use of force figures in 2017-18
  • Two thirds of incidents resulted in an arrest
  • White people were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalised than black people
  • Under 5% of all use of force incidents led to an injury, the second lowest of all police forces
  • Met officers were injured 3,315 times while carrying out use of force techniques, including 50 severe injuries

A Met Police spokesman said: "By collating this data in one place it will allow us to increase transparency, public confidence and improve police training.

"The collation of these figures is still in its early stages and, as this is new data, there are no previous benchmarks to compare it to.

"Officers have to, and have always had to, account for all uses of force, which must be proportionate, lawful and only used when necessary."

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