Police attend the scene of a fatal stabbing in Croydon (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)
Artillery Row

Black lives matter

Knife crime is predominantly black on black, so don’t hold the police back

There are few things more dispiriting than the spectacle of white liberals within the media elite hyping up the idea that racism is behind police statistics that reveal a preponderance of black youths in stop and search episodes.

The impact can only be to entrench anti-police attitudes more firmly within black communities and to make it harder for the forces of law and order to go about their core business of keeping people safe.

Alas, this week’s decision by Boris Johnson and Priti Patel to scrap onerous red tape around stop and search that was brought in by Theresa May has yielded another round of this race-baiting behaviour by leftists.

First James O’Brien, LBC’s king of posh left-liberal Londoners, hit out at the alleged “hypocrisy of old white men” who would be delighted but not remotely affected by the move.

Then the New Statesman followed up by declaring police stop and search to be “racially biased” — this on the basis of a chart showing stop rates of 54 per thousand among black people, but only 17 per thousand among South Asians, 5 per thousand among white British and 2 per thousand among those of Chinese ethnicity.

Almost everyone in London knows that the capital’s knife crime epidemic is mainly a black-on-black phenomenon

Yet the suggestion that one should expect to see proportionality across ethnic groups in stop and search makes as much sense as thinking one should see proportionality between men and women.

As Dame Cressida Dick, who can hardly be deemed a raging right-winger, told the Commons Home Affairs Committee last summer, the rate of knife crime among young black men — both as victims and perpetrators — is “hugely disproportionate”.

The Guardian proved her point in February this year with a report documenting the astonishing numbers of homicides among the three per cent of the UK population that is black. Naturally, the paper concentrated on victim statistics, in which black people were five times over-represented. But lower down the copy it also revealed that 21 per cent of convicted homicide perpetrators were black, a seven-fold over-representation.

The victim over-representation was even more marked when it came to the 16 to 24 age group, which made up almost half of black homicide victims, compared to just 12 per cent of white ones. And fully 27 per cent of “sharp instrument homicide victims” were black — an astonishing nine-fold over-representation.

Almost everyone in London knows that the capital’s knife crime epidemic is mainly a black-on-black phenomenon. But it is middle-class white liberals who are most loath to say so. That is why they display such naïve horror whenever a new batch of stop and search statistics with racial breakdowns attached becomes available.

Yet Cressida Dick told MPs last year that many black parents actually supported more stop and search, referring to black mothers who told her officers: “I do not care if my son gets stopped and searched ten times because I want him not to be carrying a knife. I want him not to be at risk.”

I confess to being delighted that the handcuffs are coming off the coppers when it comes to policing the streets

Certainly the reduction in stop and search brought in by Mrs May and supported by senior Labour figures such as Sadiq Khan coincided with an upsurge in knife attacks. A drop of 21 per cent in the number of stop-and-searches between 2016 and 2017 coincided with a 26 per cent rise in homicides involving a bladed weapon in the same period.

But our leading white liberals appear so addicted to what one might term “performative allyship” with black activist groups that they can’t seem to get their heads around the idea that if black lives really matter then more, not less, assertive policing of groups of black youths in high crime areas must follow.

As one of the “old white men” referred to so disparagingly by Mr O’Brien, I confess to being delighted that the handcuffs are coming off the coppers when it comes to policing the streets. But I fiercely dispute his charge of hypocrisy. Old white guys are not being stopped and searched in large numbers because old white guys are much less likely to be found wandering in high knife-crime areas at peak offending times, much less likely to perpetrate knife crime and much less likely to be stabbed.

I firmly believe, on the basis of investigating the evidence, that while safer streets will be a benefit to all of us, it is principally black lives which are going to be saved thanks to the bold and long overdue reversal of Mrs May’s idiotic policy by Mr Johnson and Ms Patel.

And the wider the range of voices that get behind the police, especially in our biggest cities where their work is most difficult and perilous, the more lives will be saved.

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