In his emotive film, Jermaine Jenas, the British television presenter, football pundit and former professional football player explores the impacts of controversial stop and search police measures within Black Communities, particularly with young Black males who are disproportionately targeted among any other demographic.
The program begins with a study involving forty professional Black men from the U.K, who had all been excessively targeted by police. In most cases, an average were stopped and searched between 20-30 times and in other cases an astonishing 50-100 times, and there were only three things they had in common, was their colour (Black), and they were either employed or in education. Some of the stop and searches were conducted on such a routine basis they resorted to capturing the events on video, due to the process occurring so frequently; as often as weekly, sometimes multiple times within the same day. The victims of this regular harassment had actually lost count of the amount of times they had actually been stopped and searched by the police or armed police units.
Stop and Search measures were introduced by the police during the seventies as a way of intervention and prevention, in order to reduce crime, however in more recent years Black men have increasingly been subjected to more illegal police searches even if not suspected of any involvement in crime, and this is largely due to government increased measures brought in to empower the police Stop and Search measures, including a new tactic known as Stop and Account which allows the police to stop and search without recourse, and the statistics for these measures are not, and don’t have to be included in any type of statistical data. Therefore, if a Black man is travelling on public transport, shopping, walking the dog he is considered more likely to be the victim of police stop and search procedures, moreover than any other demographic.
Current statistics are difficult to digest, if you are Black you are nine times more prone to be stopped by the police than a white person if you are resident in England or Wales. You only have to scroll online to view a multitude of aggressive and abusive stop and search footage committed by the police. Jermaine himself has been a victim of stop and search over ten times since the age of ten when he was first approached by police and told to empty his pockets and to this day continues to be affected by those experiences. As a result, of his research he was able to capture the views from a cross-section of Black males and asked them to record their experiences of stop and search incidents as they happened over a ninety day period. What remains distinctively evident was for all the stop and searches conducted during the period of those surveyed, were left with a common overwhelming negative and humiliating experience, in addition to feeling targeted by the police since adolescence and posed no threat.
• between April 2019 and March 2020, there were 563,837 stop and searches in England and Wales (excluding vehicle searches) • there were 11 stop and searches for every 1,000 people, down from 25 per 1,000 people in the year ending March 2010 • there were 6 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 54 for every 1,000 Black people • stop and search rates have fallen for every ethnic group since 2009 • almost half of all stop and searches took place in the Metropolitan Police force area in London • there were 34 stop and searches for every 1,000 people in London, the highest rate out of all police force areas
The evidence clearly observes stop and search measures are not about preventing crime, but more about racism, particularly when statistics are only applied to the Black male demographic, and there is no suggestion the measures themselves are reducing criminal activity overall. If anything, crime is at an all-time high within the Capital, considering COVID lockdown measures are not set to ease until 19 July 2021. For the Black man, stop and search is considered an inevitable aspect of life. Whereby, stop and search measures are not supposed to be conducted unless there is actual evidence of a crime about to be committed, which amounts to more than just suspicion. A Black male does not constitute the right to being earmarked for police stop and search tactics, and achieves very little to improve relations within between the police authorities and the local deprived communities they serve. What is required is a complete overhaul of this outdated practice, and further police training in reducing existing stereotypical beliefs, by adding positive behaviours to one’s belief systems, including more emphasis on cultural awareness. In the meantime, whilst these measures continue to be enforced it is vital they are conducted lawfully and most importantly without bias.