The neutral legal factors

The given quotation immediately summons in my mind the picture of a suspect on the street or at the police station or an accused before a court, whether he will be treated equally by the neutral legal factors, if he is a member of the black community. It was examined and expressed for a number of years by various researchers in this field that black people are more likely to become entangled with the web of criminal justice than white people1. In order to discuss, the quotation will be divided into two parts. First, it will be examined, whether the evidences show that law enforcement really targets black people.

In the second part, it will be considered whether such targeting has happened because of bias or impartial application of criteria that work to the disadvantage of black people TARGETING THE BLACK PEOPLE There was a considerable body of research on race and criminal justice, which suggested that the police do target some ethnic minority groups and that this may have the effect of drawing them in through the 'gates' of the criminal justice system disproportionately either to their numbers in the population or to their involvement in crime.

Also a wide public perception is that certain groups were being treated unfairly by the police and the criminal courts. In constructing the answer it will be sought to build up a picture of the differential experiences of black people in an attempt to explain how these contribute to their treatment within criminal justice processing as a whole. It is submitted that the conflicts between the police and African and Caribbean in particular occurred in the context of a perception of 'over-policing' neighbourhoods where ethnic minority communities are concentrated2.

The experience of over policing has been consistently reported in community accounts of policing. Many specifically accused the police of acting and speaking abusive manner, which indicated that they thought black people were inferior (and purpose is 'nigger hunting') and the report concluded that racist tendencies among the police were widespread. It has also been noticed that police use their discretion based on stereotyping. This process enables rough and ready but very speedy judgements about a person's character to be made on the basis of visible signs.

These auxiliary traits include age, scruffiness, and attitude to the police, previous convictions and ethnic group. For this black people were more frequently stopped for intangible reasons than were white people. Now, targeting by the police will be explored in different stages of the criminal justice system in a chronological manner, such as at the point of stop and search, arrest, charging and remand. a) TARGETING BLACK PEOPLE DURING STOP AND SEARCH:

One such area where clear patters of differential impact on minorities have been shown to exist is in relation to the stop and search practices of the police3. The use of stop and search powers is now authorised under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. The Act permits the police to stop and search persons and vehicles where the officer has 'reasonable suspicion' that they are carrying stolen or prohibited articles4. Concern about the equitable use of stop and search powers have been one of the most controversial issues in policing.

Form the perspective of young black men in certain areas of the country; it is perhaps the most glaring example of an abuse of police powers. Documentary and empirical evidence pointed to the extremely heavy use of these powers against ethnic minorities, particularly young black people5. It has emerged that black men from all walks of life have been repeatedly stopped and searched, often without justification and sometimes rudely6. The journalist Dracus Howe commented that, 'Too many police officers seem to think being black constitutes a ''reasonable ground'' for stopping and searching someone.

''7 The PACE code stipulates that there must be an 'objective basis' for stopping an individual. It also provides that reasonable suspicion can never be supported on the basis of personal factors alone without supporting intelligence or information. Nor may it be found on the basis of stereotyped images of certain persons or groups as more likely to be committing offences. The inherent danger lies in the extent of discretion, which such powers allow.

Despite attempts to make the use of discretion less arbitrary and to make police officers more accountable, research indicates that police officers tend to circumvent PACE requirements and reply on informal working practices, which clearly has implications for the policing of the black individuals (which one author has described as 'operational racism8'). Young rejects the central underpinning of the PACE guidelines-the idea that the police should suspect all citizens equally and democratically and not be biased by personal prejudice- as misguided and untenable.

Police officers will inevitably consider the patterning of crime and offenders based on official crime statistics and will use this information to maximise the likelihood of getting an arrest. The problem with Young's position, as Bowling and Phillips suggests, is that crime statistics are a product of the actions of the police and so serve only to reinforce existing prejudices about disproportionate involvement of specific ethnic minority groups in crime. The Home Office on Statistics on Race and Criminal Justice System (1999) has mentioned here as an evidence of police targeting the black.

33% of Afro-Caribbean males report being stopped, as compared to 21% of white and Asian males. For 16-25 year old Afro-Caribbean males the proportion is even higher (53%, although 16-25 old white are not far behind, at 47%). Afro-Caribbean were also more likely than whites and Asians to be searched once stopped, more likely to be arrested and more likely to be repeatedly stopped. A larger minority of people continue to have adversarial encounters with police and that the unemployed and young are disproportionately represented9. Afro-Caribbean are also disproportionately represented, 27% experiencing adversarial encounters.

Nearly 10% PACE stop-searches are of black people, a great over-representation in terms of their percentage of the overall population, making them six times more likely to be stopped than white people10. Another most controversial areas of stop and search targeting relates to the policing of immigration and the people who are defined as 'immigrants'. Many research studies uncovered evidence that ordinary policing often involved checking immigration status, such as asking for passports, for instance when people from ethnic minorities reported crimes of which they had been victims.

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (1995) reported that the police increasingly ask for identification documents and evidence of immigration status from black and 'foreign-looking' people they stop during routine traffic stops or as a witness to an accident or crime. These findings speak strongly against the theory that the high stop rate of black people is caused by their hostile behaviour towards the police. They suggest, instead, that stop of black people are rather more likely to be speculative than stops of white person.