Last month it emerged that there had been a 400% rise in police use of “stop and search” powers. And according to a recent Guardian report, there is evidence that black people are being disproportionately targeted. This is profoundly depressing. There are real grounds for concern that, once again, use of this policing strategy is storing up trouble.
Our new report, Beyond Contagion, published today, supports the view that stop and search can have unintended but significant social and psychological consequences. We examined patterns of data in the 2011 riots – in particular how these events arose and spread. The significance of the riots is indisputable: this was the largest wave of disorder in the UK since the 1980s, and involved an estimated 20,000 people, with more than 4,000 arrests. It is important to understand the underlying causes.