Thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you on the subject of stop and search as part of your Black History Month celebrations. All the data tells us that if you are a young person of colour – like most of you present here today - then you will be a prime target for stop and search operations. The evidence of BME youth disproportionality in stop and search is incontrovertible. In October last year, a colleague and I conducted a survey on stop and search as part of a Home Office consultation, just minutes from where we are today. We stopped 43 people randomly - most of them students from Bradford College and the University and asked them about their experiences of stop and search.
JUST Yorkshire is calling on the IPCC to undertake a full and thorough investigation of the incidents that led to the fatal shooting of 28-year old Mohammed Yassar Yaqub of Huddersfield on the 2nd of January by officers from the West Yorkshire Police constabulary. At a time when ethnic minority confidence in the police is low, hate crime is on the rise against a background of disproportionate stop and search operations and low levels of trust in the police to use proportionate force, as highlighted in a recent IPCC Report, it is critical that West Yorkshire Police makes a full and open disclosure of events leading up to the fatal shooting. (https://www.ipcc.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Documents/IPCC_Use_Of_Force_Report.pdf)
The IPCC reported a strong belief among BME groups that the ‘police were more ready to use excessive force’ than engage in ‘verbal communication and often targeted people ‘based on stereotypes.’ (p.vi-vii) Of the 191 investigations carried out by the IPCC over a five-year period involving 239 people, almost 30% were from a BME background.
In the context of West Yorkshire, 1438 allegations were made on the Constabulary’s use of force between 2009-14, ranking it among the top five in the country. (p.24-25) Whilst the statement from the West Yorkshire Police has made it clear that the pre-planned ‘operation related to information received about criminal possession of a firearm’, it is critical for West Yorkshire Police to be clear on the events that led to the shooting and provide full disclosure on whether its officers followed police protocol and control procedures.
The issue of police openness and transparency is particularly critical, as the incident comes so close to the recent killing of unarmed civilian Anthony Grainger by the Greater Manchester Police, which is currently the subject of a public inquiry.
According to Nadeem Murtuja, JUST’s Chair:
‘In the light of a breach in trust and confidence between the region’s ethnic minority communities and West Yorkshire police it is important that the IPCC thoroughly investigates West Yorkshire Police and its use of proportionate force and its control procedures. There is a great deal of disquiet in the community about the death of Mr Yaqub and it is crucial that both his family and the Huddersfield community are kept informed about the conduct of the investigation and the events that led to the fatal shooting’.