News 3 June 2020

Met Police Twice As Likely To Fine Black People Under COVID-19 Laws

3 June 2020

The Metropolitan Police are receiving backlash after new data reveals officers enforcing lockdown rules are twice as likely to fine black people as to white people.

Between March 27 and May 14, 973 fines were issued and white people received 444 fines while black people received 253 fines. Although white people received more, the figures show a clear disproportionality as white people make up 59% of London’s population, as black people make up 12%. Asian people – who make up 18% of the London population – received 253 fines in the same period.

A lecturer in crime science at University College London,Dr Krisztián Pósch, said of the figures: “Compared to their share of the population, people from a black ethnic minority were 2.17 times more likely to receive a fine and Asians around 26% more likely. In comparison, whites were 23% less likely to be fined.”

As well as displaying a clear disproportionality in the number of fines issued, the same pattern appeared in the number of arrests under coronavirus laws. In the data, white people are under-represented and make up 38% of arrests while black people are over-represented and make up 31%.

Of the fines and arrests due to lockdown rules, the Met said: “In total, more white people received FPNs [fixed penalty notices] or were arrested than other individual ethnic groups. However, when compared with the composition of the resident population, higher proportions of those in black and minority ethnic (BAME) groups were issued with FPNs [fixed penalty notice] or arrested across London as a whole.

“The reasons for this are likely to be complex and reflect a range of factors. This includes interactions between the areas subject to significant proactive policing activity targeting crime hotspots and both the variation in the age profile and geographical distribution of ethnic groups in London.”

Leroy Logan – a former Met superintendent – has said: “I can’t discount that these figures exhibit a racial bias, because practically everything the Met does has a racial bias. The Met is still institutionally racist and the use of Covid powers is part of this.”

The chair of the Met’s black police association, Sgt Janet Hills, said of the data: “I struggle to think of why there can be any justification. We deal with intelligence all the time and we know that this pandemic has impacted on everyone.

“It shows that even though we’re going through one of the biggest social upheavals since anyone can remember and having to adjust to a new way of doing things, if you’re black then disproportionality will always remain a constant in our lives.

“There are a number of things that already impact on black communities, like living in a more densely populated areas, which has made adhering to the lockdown slightly more challenging. Our essential workers who may live in these areas have no choice other than to do their part to keep London functioning. But because they are black, because they live in a ‘high crime’ area, they fall into a profile that stereotypes them.”