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A 14-year-old black schoolboy has accused the Metropolitan police of racist targeting after claiming he has been stopped by police about 30 times in the last two years. He has not been charged with or convicted of any offence.
The boy, who lives in south London with his 41-year-old mother, and hopes to train as an engineer, says he has been stopped and searched so many times by the police that he has become fearful of leaving home.
“Every time I hear sirens I think the police are coming for me. I don’t want any headaches. I just don’t want the police to stop me any more,” he told the Guardian.
His mother has made complaints to the Metropolitan Police Service, which has confirmed that its Directorate of Professional Standards has launched an investigation, and to the Independent Office for Police Conduct. In her complaint to the IOPC the mother says she believes her son has been targeted on the basis of his race and his age.
“When the police stop me in the street to search me they put me in cuffs and ask me if I’m carrying weapons,” the boy said. “I don’t carry a knife and I’m not involved with drugs. I’ve even been stopped by the police when I’ve gone outside our flat to take the rubbish out for my mum.”
He said that often when he has been stopped by the police they have not given him a written slip explaining the reasons for the stop. On some occasions when he was stopped they have given him a slip. Some of the slips are hard to read, others say he matches the description of people linked to crimes but does not provide detail of the descriptions police believe he matches.
One slip said he matched a description of a person or persons wearing black clothing, another said he matched a description of people carrying out a robbery but does not provide details of the description of the suspects.
“The first time the police stopped me was in June 2020 when I was 13,” the boy said.
On 4 November 2021 police arrived at the family’s home with a search warrant. They said the boy had been linked to an offence involving road rage that happened in Kingston several months ago. Police searched the boy’s room but found nothing. The boy was at school at the time.
Later that morning police called the boy’s mother and said he needed to present himself at a local police station to be interviewed. He attended with his mother but no charges were made against him.
“The police showed us a photo of the suspect. He looks nothing like my son. He is a grown man, not a 14-year-old boy. He was wearing different clothing and was wearing aviator shades. My son wears glasses but they are nothing like those ones. My son needs his glasses so he can see.”
Kevin Blowe, campaigns coordinator at Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), said: “Stop and search is a crude tactic with limited value. It legitimises racial profiling by insisting that officers have to stop black children and young black men because they are at a ‘higher risk’ of alleged gang activity. That is why searches happen over and over again – once a young person becomes a target, they tend to remain one.”
Habib Kadiri, research and policy manager at the police monitoring organisation Stopwatch, said: “Repeated stop-searches of people with no criminal convictions or offences is a form of harassment worthy of a police state. it is clear to us that there are police units committed to over policing black boys in parts of the capital based on fake racial stereotypes.”
A Metropolitan police spokesperson said: “We are aware of two complaints received in respect of the stop and search of a 14-year-old boy. Both incidents happened in June 2021. Both complaints relate to the use of force by officers in the course of stop and search. The mother of the juvenile has been contacted by police to discuss the complaints. Professional standards officers from the south-west command unit and the violent crime taskforce are conducting the inquiries.”
The spokesperson declined to answer questions about whether the boy had been targeted and racially profiled by the police, adding that the force did not have a record of all the stops referred to by the boy nor of the road rage incident.
This content was originally published here.