Croydon police yesterday embarked on a borough-wide stop and search operation in its latest efforts to clamp down on knife crime.
In doing so, the police managed to revive memories of “Operation Swamp”, the overbearing exercise which alienated police from black and ethnic youths and which was cited in the Scarman Report as contributing to the Brixton riots in 1981.
Yesterday saw another London teenager killed, this time in West Kensington, after a knife attack, the sixth person to be fatally stabbed across the UK in the space of a week.
The Metropolitan Police announced its intentions for the Croydon-wide operation via… where else? … Twitter.
“Section 60 & 60AA Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 has been authorised from 1pm on 07.03.19 until 4am on 08.03.19, covering 16 wards across the North, Centre & East of Croydon, giving officers powers to stop and search for offensive weapons and dangerous instruments,” they announced.
In fact, those sections of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act give the police “Powers to stop and search in anticipation of or after violence.” We have added italics for emphasis. It is what was once known as “sus laws”, where the police might act on suspicion of the intent to commit crime.
Enquiries by Inside Croydon suggest that the police did not consult with councillors over its intensification of the use of stop and search in their wards. The Twitter posting was the first that most council figures knew about the operation.
“On the face of this tweet, it does feel like Swamp81,” one Labour councillor said, “and I hope it won’t reflect the past prejudices of our policing system – if there’s evidence of ‘sus’-style profiling, that will be totally unacceptable.
“Obviously, it flies somewhat in the face of the (in my view correct) argument that this is a public health issue with social causes advanced by Croydon Central’s Labour MP, Sarah Jones, and indeed most mainstream voices over the last week’s debate.”
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