London gangs database is discriminatory and violates human rights

The gang-mapping database used by the London Metropolitan Police racially discriminates against BAME youth and seriously violates rights of individuals.

Amnesty International published a damning report of the so-called Gangs Matrix last week, which calls for the whole system to be scrapped. The system, set up in 2011, is not only ineffective in preventing crime but is counter-productive. The report revealed major issues including the  disproportionate number of black people in the list and unregulated data-sharing with other institutions such as schools and job centres, which would further stigmatise already marginalised groups. The racial profiling and targeting carried out by law enforcement agencies are especially worrying.

Community activists, young people and family members all told Amnesty International that they felt the Gangs Matrix unfairly profiled and stigmatised black youth, further entrenching distrust in the police and isolating at-risk individuals.

The full Amnesty report can be found here, and Amnesty’s press release here.

This report is significant for those campaigning for migrants’ rights as discriminatory police practices can unfairly criminalise migrants and subject them to detention and deportation. Recently, research by Luke de Noronha showed that most “Western European” citizens targeted for detention and deportation were black and brown, and could be linked to both discriminatory policing and the lowering of criminality thresholds (what “counts” as crime serious enough to warrant deportation). 

MRN is part of a working group on immigration enforcement and policing issues, and will soon be launching a dedicated monthly bulletin.  

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