Anger at call for police to search more black people

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The Independent Online

The outgoing leader of the National Black Police Association (NBPA) was attacked by all sides following claims he called for the police to stop and search more young black people to tackle rising gun crime.

Keith Jarrett, the NBPA's outgoing president, will use a speech at its annual conference this week to urge Police minister Tony McNulty and Met chief Sir Ian Blair to consider searching more young people.

His remarks, in the wake of the killing of a black boy, 16, in Sheffield with a single shot to the head last week, threatened to revive the row over the Sus (suspicion) laws that led to checks on predominantly black young people in the 1990s before the Scarman report on the Brixton riots.

Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the Commons select committee on Home Affairs, yesterday criticised Mr Jarrett's remarks as "extremely unhelpful". He said: "I think you have to look at the facts – very few stop and search acts actually lead to arrests. When the Black Police Association is so vocal about the over-representation of black people in the criminal justice system, it is very odd and extremely unhelpful when its leader thinks we should go back to some pre-Scarman era."

Mr Jarrett yesterday denied that he was specifically calling for the targeting of black youths, however he told yesterday's Observer newspaper: "From the return I am getting from a lot of black people, the black community, they want to stop these killings, these knife crimes, and if it means that their sons and daughters are going to be inconvenienced by being stopped by the police, then so be it. I am hoping that we go down that road."

Meanwhile, the Home Affairs committee today will question the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith over the use of 28-day detention without charge for terrorist suspects. Mr Vaz said the Muslim community believed it was being targeted unfairly with the powers and he warned that such alienation, which could be made worse by stop and search powers, was "the road to ruin".

The NBPA's legal adviser, Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei, disowned Mr Jarrett's remarks, telling the BBC the comments were Mr Jarrett's personal views. He said stop and search was "a very, very small part" of the fight against knife and gun crime and increasing its use would be wrong.

"I think that [it] will increase tension in the black community," he said.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "Stop and search is just one tool of policing. If overused, or overspun, it alienates more law abiding people than it protects."

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, speaking on BBC1's The Politics Show, said: "I don't think we should go about stopping people for the sake of it. It has to be in terms of targeting and intelligent policing and with the co-operation of the community."