Race fear over Met swoop on muggers

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The Independent Online
Ethnic community leaders yesterday called on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Condon, to drop his controversial anti-mugging campaign, which they warned would stigmatise blacks as criminals and provoke resentment.

They predicted that Operation Eagle Eye, which police acknowledge is likely to result in the arrest of many young black men, would seriously harm community relations.

Sir Paul infuriated many in the black community last month by suggesting the bulk of muggings in London were committed by young black men who were unemployed. They believed that he was wrong to link one specific crime with race.

A demonstration against Operation Eagle Eye and to press for an inquiry into the death of illegal immigrant, Joy Gardner, is being held today in London.

Weyman Bennett, of the Joy Gardner Memorial Campaign, said that Sir Paul's claim that about 70 per cent of victims of street crime reported that their attacker was black had not been backed up by published statistics. "We fear Operation Eagle Eye is adding fuel to the fire in terms of the atmosphere building up. We want it stopped and we want a retraction or a resignation from Sir Paul."

Sir Paul defended the crackdown against the background of a 16 per cent rise in muggings which could see 40,000 attacks in the capital this year.