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Abbott calls out Johnson's stop and search plans

DISAGREE: Diane Abbott and Boris Johnson

PRIME MINISTER, Boris Johnson, has come under intense criticism after vowing to crack down on crime with the reintroduction of stop and search. Data from the Home Office has found that black people in England and Wales were 40 times more likely to be searched under section 60 powers than white people.

Along with stop and search, the PM has pledged to create 10,000 more prisons while also recruiting 20,000 more police officers in a determined effort to crack down heavily on crime. According to The Guardian, since 2011, when the riots broke out, the number of youth centres in London has fallen from 234 to 130.

Following the news of Johnson’s plans, Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott expressed concerns about the proposed implementation of the new measures. With not enough being done to tackle the causes of crime, Ms Abbott said: “Random stops have only poisoned community relations. Stop and search is a tried-and-tested recipe for unrest, not violence reduction.”

Speaking to Radio 4's Today programme, she added: “Evidence-based stop-and-search will always be a useful tool for police officers… but random stop-and-search is a tried and tested method for exacerbating community relations.

“The Labour party’s not saying we’re against evidence-based stop-and-search. What we’re saying, what history tells us, is random stop-and-search is not a way to build community relations and in the end you can only police with community consent.”

Ms Abbott also commented on thePrime Minister’s plans to put an extra 10,000 police officers on the streets.

She said: “Well he says this, this is a pre-election period. Even if it isn’t go ahead and have an election in autumn, he’s claiming the ground, and anybody can promise tens of thousands of police officers if you’re not saying exactly how you’re going to fund it.

“There’s been a whole series of these announcements and Boris doesn’t quite explain how he’d pay for it.”

PROTEST

It was eight years ago this month that Mr Johnson, the then Mayor of London, witnessed, alongside the rest of the country, some of the worst rioting seen in decades after the police shooting of an unarmed black male - Mark Duggan – in Tottenham, north London on August 4 2011.

The circumstances surrounding Duggan’s death resulted in public protests in Tottenham before a conflict with the police led to rioting in London which spread like wildfire across other parts of England and subsequently led to an estimated 4000 arrests.

After an inquest into the death of Duggan came to the conclusion that he was lawfully killed, the then Home Secretary - Theresa May - called for a change in the way that stop and search was used. However, despite the rule change in 2014 there is still a problem with racial disproportionality and profiling of black people who are eight times more likely to be stopped than white people.

Since March 2019, uses of stop and search in England have doubled, with the reasoning behind this attributed to the 47,000 offences involving knives which according to The Guardian have seen an 8% increase year on year and the highest total since records began.

The new proposals, announced on Sunday (Aug 11), are an extension to the pilot scheme eased by former home secretary, Sajid Javid, which allowed officers to stop and search anyone in defined areas without reasonable suspicion.

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