The Metropolitan Police is being urged to rebuild trust and confidence amongst the diverse communities it serves to protect.
In a new report, Policing with Consent, Labour’s London Assembly Policing and Crime Spokesperson, Unmesh Desai AM, urged intervention from senior officers to build stronger community relationships as London moves into tighter Covid restrictions.
His calls come after a recent survey from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) found that only half of black Londoners believe that the police are doing a good job in their local area.
Met figures show that at the height of lockdown – between 27 March and 14 May, 253 fines were issued to black Londoners for breaching emergency Covid-19 laws.
This was more than twice the rate at which white Londoners received fines during the same period. In May, the use of stop and search also more than doubled in the capital when compared with the same month last year, from 21,593 to 43,913.
Black Londoners accounted for 17,284 of those stop and searches and were four times more likely to be approached by the police than their white counterparts.
As the capital enters tighter restrictions, Mr Desai is calling upon senior leaders in the Met Police to review the way the force proactively communicates the use of its tactics to Londoners.
This comes as the latest MOPAC public perceptions survey data shows that the proportion of black Londoners who feel that the police treat everyone fairly, has dropped by almost a fifth over the last 12 months to 63%.
Mr Desai’s new report recommends the Met make better use of its social media channels to highlight its deployment of stop and search and section 60 orders.
His report also calls on the Met to better engage with community groups and more closely involve them in the roll out of new initiatives such as Violence Suppression Units.
Policing with Consentalso spells out the need to root out any form of racism and bias within the Met. A poll conducted by ITV in July, showed that 62% of BAME Londoners believe that there is a culture of racism in the ranks of the police.
Mr Desai said the Met’s largest recruitment drive in a decade presents an opportunity for the force to significantly increase the number of officers from BAME backgrounds. He is also calling for unconscious bias training to be extended beyond the 20,000 officers and staff that have already received it to the whole of the Met.
Mr Desai said: “Londoners place huge value on the way that our police officers put themselves in harm’s way and under great pressures on a daily basis to keep us safe.
“At the heart of policing in our capital is the community, but we can’t ignore the fact that in the past few months, we have seen even sharper strain placed upon the relationship between the Met and the people it serves to protect.
“It is clear that the Met now need to do more to publicly show that they are actively addressing serious concerns about the disproportionate use of policing tactics against black Londoners and those from BAME communities.
“My report calls for the force to take action at a senior level to improve the way it communicates its work to Londoners and engages with community groups, whilst ensuring that its ranks are a lot more representative of the diverse make-up of our capital.”