‘Who’s the real racist?’ Still you, Melanie Phillips

Increasing stop and search is not good for young, black men


Melanie Phillips takes to her trusty Times column today to launch a full-throated defence of stop-and-search, a practice so structurally racist that even Theresa May says it’s ‘an affront to justice’.

As home secretary, May significantly reduced the use of stop and search because of the damage it was doing to community relations. Phillips is calling for it to ratchet back up, arguing that those who believe that young, black men shouldn’t be randomly intercepted by police officers are — wait for it — the real racists.

According to Phillips, ‘reducing the use of this power means black boys become disproportionately targeted as the victims of violent crime’. Strangely, however, she acknowledges in the column that there is no evidence for her claim that increased use of stop and search will bring down violent crime.

“Research evidence on this apparent connection has been inconclusive. Last year, a Home Office study reported that in ten London boroughs a threefold increase in stop and search in 2008-09 had produced no discernible effect on crime rates.”

But as ever, Phillips believes that what seems reasonable to her mind must then be borne out in fact.

It’s ‘surely likely’ that general application of stop and search will have a deterrent effect, she writes, because ‘if young men know there’s a distinct possibility that an officer will stop them to search their pockets they’ll be less likely to carry a knife or a gun.’

She continues

“There’s anecdotal evidence that in rough neighbourhoods young men think carrying a knife is essential for personal protection. So with such young men becoming routinely armed, it stands to reason that the offensive use of such weapons will increase exponentially.”

This is a hallmark of regressive commentary — find a version of the truth that seems plausible and stick with it, irrespective of what the evidence shows or what the communities affected say.

Phillips believes that if white communities were disproportionately impacted by knife crime that the government response would be very different. And she’s probably right. If the levels of deprivation and violence facing black communities in the UK affected white communities, a much more comprehensive response would have been formulated long ago.

It would not rely on excessive police powers, but would recognise that ‘rough’ neighbourhoods need not always be rough, that young men need social supports more than police interventions, and that investment is more likely to save lives than interrogation.

The real racist here is still Phillips, with her hackneyed assumption that young, black men are inherently violent and that blunt deterrents are needed to stop them killing each other.

May was right to roll back stop and search. The last thing black communities need is more intrusive policing.

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.

See: Wishful thinking about police tactics won’t stop young Londoners being killed

4 Responses to “‘Who’s the real racist?’ Still you, Melanie Phillips”

  1. John Reid

    Theresa May wanted to cut police, her defence was that knife crime is foen, if there’s less police there’s less, stop and searches,so the police find less knives,so knife crime is down, because it’s not recognized kids are carrying them

    I’m sure if you ask the parents if a black kid stabbed to death, that the reason violent crime and stabbing s have doubled in the last 5 years due to cutting stop and search, is because, the police don’t stop kids anymore

    Is it racist to do stop and search, the parent would sooner hwve stop and search than their child killed
    As forit disproportionately, targeting black kids
    The reason that searches are carried out more in blwvk kids is because A, the working class areas, take drugs, more middle class students in famous, use(not sell) class as drugs, but there’s less, police on campus to search white students for class act drugs that they’re using (not selling)
    The things people can be searched for, illegal items, items to be used in burlsrgy street robbery, theft
    Criminal damage,or stolen articles,

    Stop and search can’t be used to look on a lap top to see kid porn which more white people do

    Great if you want less stop and search and scream racism, that’s up to uou’ but don’t expect, to not be criticized when these sort of polices have seen violent crime double in last 5 years

  2. John Reid

    Crime rates can be noted as crime goes up if,police findkids with knives they haven’t used, but it’s better that the crime. If being in possession of a knife ,increases,rather than the crime of stabbing someone with s knife
    By the way stop ans search isn’t indesecriminate, it has to be reasonable belief based in evidence,
    If someone smells of cannabis, or is seen by a third party with a knife in their pocket,it’s also, easy to discard a knife nice a witness has seen it,before the police turn up and search, it’s disgraceful fir yiu to scream racism,when so many kids are being stabbed and Melanie Philips Is worried about it, go in then give another solution to stopping the knife crime stabbing increase,

  3. John p reid

    Being stabbed to death is not good for young black men

  4. Dave Roberts

    Most crimes of violence against young black males are carried out by other black males. This week has been one of the worst for murders using knives in London. Anything that reduces the threat or possibility of violence is to be welcomed.

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