Leaked Home Office document shows that the high concentration of police at the entrance to Parliament could lead to unprecedented levels of stop and search, hindering MPs’ entrance and exit from Westminster.
A spike in criminal behaviour in London, particularly in Tottenham, Hackney, and the Palace of Westminster, has led for some to call for increased policing levels. Others, principally those responsible for the decline in policing levels, have argued for an expansion of stop and search.
Support for the Home Secretary’s proposals has been found online, as ever. “This is why we need the old sus law back,” wrote Belinda White, in the comments section of our sister paper the Brixton Herald, “that’s how you deal with these ethnics.” Superintendent Frank Burnside, who is in charge of one of the local police stations that Boris Johnson didn’t close, expressed concerns however:
“Any expansion of powers needs to come with more resources. Otherwise it’ll just lead to unachievable targets again. The days of stopping 1000 people in six days under suspicion of possession of melanin are behind us. We simply don’t have the resources.”
It seems MPs agree. A leaked impact assessment by the Home Office projected stopping under mere suspicion of criminality would lead to such a high concentration of stop and search at the entrance to the Palace of Westminster that there was a “material risk that MPs will not be able to enter quickly enough to beat the division bell.”
This risk to the trade of the Westminster Arms being considered more material than risks to minority communities, the Home Secretary’s draft bill is expected to be rejected later today. Superintendent Burnside did say, however, that were a return of sus to be accompanied with funding for more officers, he would happily recognise Brixton’s changing ethnicity and deploy a more modern policing approach.
An early draft of Operation Swamp Hipster includes “bad haircuts, fixie bikes, and generally looking like a berk,” as reasons to stop and search someone in Brixton in 2018.