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London mayor joins criticisms of gangs database

24/12/18

Parliamentary Correspondent

London’s mayor has added to criticism of Scotland Yard's controversial gangs’ database, demanding a “comprehensive overhaul” to end discrimination.

Sadiq Kham

Sadiq Khan has published a review of the Gangs Matrix which finds that three quarters of the people on it are under the age of 25 and four-in-five are black.

It says there is evidence that the 3,200-strong list - created after the 2011 riots to identify likely gang members – had helped to reduce offending rates. However, changes were needed to “restore trust” and to ensure it is used “lawfully and proportionately”, the review concludes.

It says the representation of young black men on the Matrix is disproportionate to their likelihood of either causing or being a victim of gang violence - and communities have “deep reservations” about how it operates.

The report adds: “Further investigation is to be carried out to understand if this disproportionality is legitimate and to be transparent.”

Legal action

The Met is being sued by a 28-year-old man from Newham who claims his name appeared on pages from the database which were leaked onto social media.

Khan revealed local borough police forces had deleted their informal gang databases, saying: “To many Londoners, the way [the Matrix] is applied and enforced is a cause for concern and it needs to be comprehensively overhauled to ensure it is used lawfully and proportionately.”

The conclusions follow strong criticism of the database from the Information Commissioner’s Office, which warned of multiple and serious data breaches in a report last month.

The ICO issued an enforcement notice, giving the Met Police six months to make changes to ensure it complies with data protection laws in future.

The Gangs Matrix system sees each of the 32 London boroughs operating their own version and feeding data into the central database, including names, dates of birth, home addresses and records of any gun or knife offences.

Shortcomings

The ICO’s investigation highlighted how the database does not make clear whether a person is perpetrator or victim of crime, inconsistent records across boroughs and data-sharing with third parties that failed to distinguish between people assessed as high or low risk.

In addition, the Met Police did not carry out an equality impact assessment, there was no audit of the data processed, no effective central governance, and no information sharing agreements with third parties.

A report by Amnesty International in May first highlighted the disparity between the 80% of people listed who are back, when the ethnic group forms just 13% of the capital's population.

 

 

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