Stop and search should not be targeted “equally” in London because 70 per cent of teenage homicide victims are black, a senior officer in the Metropolitan Police has said.
Commander Alex Murray, the Met’s lead on violent crime, said stop and search was an essential weapon for tackling youth violence and that the force is taking 400 knives off the streets every month.
The senior officer defended the use of stop and search, a tactic which has attracted strong criticism because it predominately targets young black men.
However, he argued it is used proportionately because the majority of London’s gun and knife crime victims are from the black community.
“We owe a commitment to them and their families to do something about it,” he told the Evening Standard. “The data shows that violence and murder are disproportionate and it would be wrong for us to use stop and search equally across London.”
His comments come as violence on London’s streets has reached record heights, with 23 teenagers being killed in the capital this year so far.
The figures have put London on course to surpass its worst year of violence in 2008 when 29 teenagers were killed.
Mr Murray admitted that the force “don’t always get the balance right” when it comes to stop and search.
“We have to try to strike a balance between reducing harm through stop and search and minimising the erosion of trust it can sometimes cause. We don’t always get the balance right,” he said.
He added: “We recognise that trust in the police by the black community and stigmatising of black youth is a problem. Our challenge is how do we stop people getting murdered while trying to take the community with us.
“That is why our number one priority is to get violence down and our number two priority is to build trust, and deal justly with communities. We recognise those two goals can be contradictory and knit together in a complicated way.”
He added: “We’re taking 400 knives a month off the street and achieving a 20 to 25 per cent positive outcome rate, which is where we find weapons or illegal drugs. The evidence shows that stop and search done well and in places where violence is concentrated can have a huge impact on violent crime.
“We recognise it’s not easy to be stopped and searched, but the benefit of taking knives off the streets is such that we need to do it.”
It comes after chief constables hit back at a watchdog report which found that officers used Tasers unsafely and disproportionately against black people.
The IOPC report was accused of being vague and outdated which was based on a fraction of the 32,000 uses of Tasers a year.
The watchdog reviewed 101 cases and said that officers were missing opportunities to de-escalate situations before firing the stun guns.