Ban police gang lists – they are racist and unjust
Police are labelling young men and boys – almost exclusively black – as potential gang members, based on little or no evidence.
It turns out that appearing in a music video, or simply associating yourself with a particular type of music online, can land you on a database purporting to show “propensity for violence”. The human rights group Amnesty International has produced a report on the Metropolitan police’s list of gang suspects, known as the gangs violence matrix. The report presents an abundance of evidence challenging the assumed relationship between serious youth violence and the policing of gangs. It provides a stark window into how flawed policy, discretionary everyday practice and unaccountable data-sharing, combine to hardwire racism into society.
The findings are damning. The study reveals how the labelling of young men, sometimes boys, almost exclusively from the black community, as “gang nominals” is often based on hunch or feeling. These uncorroborated assumptions then travel, appearing as “flags” on the case management systems of a range of agencies extending well beyond the criminal justice system. Individuals and their families become marked. The stigma leads to serious harms including criminalisation, imprisonment, exclusion from school, eviction from home, removal of children and deportation.