Theresa May criticises surge in black people being stopped and searched since coronavirus pandemic

'You should not be stopped on the streets of our country simply because of the colour of your skin'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 09 July 2020 16:26
Theresa May criticises stop-and-search surge

Theresa May has attacked the huge surge in the number of black people being stopped and searched by police since the coronavirus crisis began.

“I fundamentally believe that you should not be stopped on the streets of our country simply because of the colour of your skin,” the former prime minister said.

Speaking after it was revealed young black men in London have been searched more than 20,000 times in recent weeks, she added: “Sadly, we're seeing some of the figures go back up again.”

The equivalent of 30 per cent of all young black males in the capital were stopped between March and May, although some individuals may have been targeted more than once.

More than 80 per cent of the 21,950 searches resulted in no further action, according to analysis by the office of Yvette Cooper, chair of the Commons home affairs select committee chair.

In total, the Metropolitan force carried out 43,000 stops in May – compared with 21,000 a year earlier – and 30,608 in April, up from 20,981.

The figures emerged after Cressida Dick, its commissioner, apologised for the distress caused to the athlete Bianca Williams when officers stopped, searched and handcuffed her at the weekend.

And they were sharply criticised by Katrina Ffrench, chief executive of StopWatch, a charity that campaigns against disproportionate use of stop and search.

“The number is shocking and saddening. How do those young people feel when this is their city, they're going about their daily business, could be caring for parents, all sorts of reasons as to why they're out?” she asked.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, Ms May said: “The number of black people who are likely to be stopped again, its significant higher than those with white skin.”

The prime minister pointed to the “racial disparity audit” – across all public services – that she made a priority of her premiership, amid little sign of it being taken forward by Boris Johnson, her successor.

“It threw up some shocking figures and some shocking incidences,” she warned.

The former prime minister also urged bosses to consider whether any of their workers will suffer from domestic abuse if they are made to work from home during the pandemic.

Warning that, for many victims “work is your safe place”, she said: “What I don’t want to see is employers simply saying that everybody who can work at home should be doing so in the future.

“Because if you are a victim of domestic abuse, work is your safe place. And employers need to think about that, think about those of their employees for whom the workplace is a safe place, and being at home is not.”

Support services have reported an increase in the number of calls for help from domestic abuse victims, since the UK entered lockdown in March.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in