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UK News

Sadiq Khan thanks black majority churches for role in tackling racism in police forces

by Tola Mbakwe

Sadiq Khan has commended the work of London's black majority forces in trying to foster good relationships between young ethnic minorities and police. 

The London mayor said black majority churches played a big role this year in helping to develop his action plan to improve trust and confidence in the Metropolitan police. 

He told Premier: "I want to thank the black majority churches, but also the black leaders from the church communities across London who played a big role over the course of the summer and autumn in the meetings that led to this action plan. 

"We've seen lots of examples of mentorship provided by black churches, lots of examples of constructive things for young people to do provided by our churches, but also lots and lots of examples of positive role models provided by our churches, particularly black churches. 

"We've also seen some heart-breaking stories of black churches picking up the pieces where there's been trauma in the community… often victims, often parents, often families, when there's been particularly a homicide, or a violent incident. What we're doing is learning the lessons from what we've been taught."

Mr Khan has called for an immediate review of police road traffic stops in the capital as part of a plan to address concerns over tactics affecting black Londoners.

The London mayor has asked the Metropolitan Police to launch a year-long pilot scheme looking at samples of vehicle stops to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity.

Figures show black people are almost four times more likely to be stopped and searched in the street than white people in London. They are also six times more likely to be stopped in their vehicles, according to City Hall.

The pilot project is part of the action plan published by the mayor on Friday to address concerns over the use of police powers affecting black Londoners, including stop and search and the use of Taser.

Mr Khan said: "In London, we pride ourselves on a being a beacon of diversity and a city that is both fair and inclusive. But the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, which followed the tragic killing of George Floyd, highlighted how much more we have to do to improve trust and confidence among the black community in our public institutions.

"Through the development of this action plan, we've listened and responded to the continued frustrations of black Londoners who are concerned about the disproportionate use of some police powers.

The Met has faced controversy and accusations of racial profiling following a series of incidents filmed and shared online, including the vehicle stop of Team GB athlete Bianca Williams and her Portuguese sprinter boyfriend Ricardo Dos Santos.

City Hall will invest £1.7 million to help boost the recruitment and progression of black officers.

The Met wants up to 40 per cent of new recruits to be from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds by 2022 and Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick will re-introduce the London residency criteria for most officers joining the force.

Mr Khan told Premier that he will continue his regular dialogue with black majority churches because "we learned so much from them".

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