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We met with the police chief to reform the list of suspected gang members targeting black men | Metropolitan Police

We met with the police chief to reform the list of suspected gang members targeting black men |  Metropolitan Police

 


A controversial Metropolitan Police list of suspected gang members which mainly targeted black men reinforced the disproportionality and must be fundamentally reformed, Britain’s top police officer has said.

The gang violence matrix was branded part of a racialized war on gangs by Amnesty International and found to be in breach of data laws by the information commissioner.

It ranked people according to the threat they posed and the matrix faced claims that hundreds of young people in London were placed on it who should not have been.

Now more than 1,000 young people who were on the list despite being classified as having little or no risk of violence have been removed.

Those in it can be subjected to Al Capone-style disruption tactics, such as losing their housing or driver’s licenses, as part of legal harassment.

The meeting’s commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, pledged to implement the reforms after Sadiq Khan had pressed the force for change.

A report to the Mayor of London, to be published on Monday, found: There remains an over-representation of young black men in the general GVM [gang violence matrix] population compared to groups recorded by the police for offending and victimization.

The matrix now has 1,933 individuals, a 49% drop from its peak in 2017, when 3,881 people were in it.

Rowley said: We recognize that the gang violence matrix needs to be redesigned, taking into account improvements in statistical methods and technologies.

We know that young people, and especially young people of color, continue to be overrepresented in the matric.

Sadly, there is a reality that violent crime rates disproportionately affect young people of color in terms of both victimization and offending, and our tactics must be targeted so that we can protect those most at risk.

However, it is not appropriate for the matrix to further reinforce this disproportionality. In immediate response, we are removing all lower risk individuals. This represents 65%, or more than 1,100 people.

In 2018, the Information Commissioners Office found that the gang matrix was potentially breaching data protection laws and failed to distinguish between victims of crime and offenders. In an embarrassing move for the Met, the ICO issued Britain’s biggest force with formal enforcement notices to improve.

In the same year, the Guardian revealed that more than 40% of young people on a matric roll from Haringey, north London, were rated as zero risk of causing harm. Some were judged to be more likely to be victims than offenders.

Khan said: That black Londoners have less confidence in the Met should worry us all. This is why the comprehensive review of the gang violence matrix is ​​so important, increased scrutiny and transparency will help increase the degree of trust that all of London’s diverse communities can have in the Met.

As a direct result of police action on the recommendations, the Matrix database is now more effective and evidence-based than ever before.

The average age of those in matric is 23 and the majority are male. The percentage who are black or ethnic minority has fallen from 89% in 2019 to 77% in 2021.

Critics say more is needed.

Veteran campaigner Stafford Scott said those being removed should be told and he condemned the injustice of how widely the matric had affected the lives of young people when they posed little or no risk of violence.

He said: These young people have been the recipients of the Mets’ Achilles heel policing policy which requires all government agencies to penalize those who are targeted.

This means that their human rights are violated by many organizations. These young people will feel that these services are still unavailable to them. Unless they are informed and able to seek redress. They continue to live chaotic lives on the fringes of society doing whatever they think is necessary to survive.

Amnesty International’s Oliver Feeley-Sprague said reforms were needed to clean up the Met: We raised the alarm over the racist gang matrix of the Met’s policies years ago, so this review is welcome but overdue.

Stigmatizing young people of color based on the music they listen to, their behavior on social media or who they associate with is completely unacceptable, damaging the lives of many and further damaging trust in the police institution itself.

Liria is filing a legal action, which reaches court next month. Emmanuelle Andrews from the civil rights group said: Being in matric can have a devastating effect on your life, from increased stop and searches to sharing private data with schools and housing providers that affects your education and housing status.

It is true that the Met police today have removed more people from the gang matrix, but this still does not go far enough.

The matrix was created after the 2011 riots, when the Conservative government was convinced that gangs were to blame for the worst mass violence to hit England in modern times. Report after report was found poor social conditions and poor relations with the police were more of a factor.

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