Stop-and-search not the answer

  • Targeted response: the Bermuda Police Service conducted random searches of vehicles along Kindley Field Road in St Georges in 2012

    Targeted response: the Bermuda Police Service conducted random searches of vehicles along Kindley Field Road in St Georges in 2012

Dear Sir,

Profiling does not reduce violent crime. Profiling is inherently wrong. And profiling only serves to further divide the community, law enforcement and an already marginalised demographic.

Your comments that profiling will save young black men are ill-informed and ill-conceived. Where is the evidence of it ever working? There’s no evidence to show how stop-and-search has ever made Bermuda safer.

I’m afraid the preceding few sentences is this opinion’s upshot, and most of the rest here will consist simply of presenting evidence and justification for such a disrespectful assessment.

Here are the publicly available facts surrounding Bermuda’s most violent years ever:

2009 People shot and killed: 4. People shot and injured: 16. People stopped and searched: 3,725

2010 People shot and killed: 6. People shot and injured: 36. People stopped and searched: 9,571

2011 People shot and killed: 5. People shot and injured: 16. People stopped and searched: 17,429

Yes, you read that right — 17,429. Stop-and-search did not make Bermuda safer.

Not one firearm was seized as a result of a Section 315F stop-and-search during this above period. More importantly, nearly all of the people stopped, searched and “unnecessarily inconvenienced”, as you say, were males of colour.

They were profiled. A few of them were female and very few of them were white. You can probably see where this is headed. Stop-and-search is not effective at reducing violence.

Instead, stop-and-search ensnared hundreds of young black men and recycled them through the criminal justice system. Arrests for minor drug possession, apprehension warrants and a miscellany of summary offences skyrocketed.

However, their same-age Caucasian peers, who also possess drugs, warrants and commit offences, were — as we now know — not stopped or searched.

Why? Because, like you said, only young black males should be targeted. This may sound like liberal gibberish until our prison statistics are unpacked.

There are 192 inmates in Bermuda; 186 of them are black. The average age of a person serving a life sentence is 38 years old. All of them male. All of them black.

There are, of course, some obvious explanations for these disturbing facts: institutional racism, implicit bias, open-air criminality and the need for public-safety reform.

But I think the deep reason for the gross racial disparity is owing to policies such as stop-and-search that have used skin colour as a justification for “reasonable cause” and uncritically cast a wide net instead of using focused deterrence models.

Even the police themselves vowed to end to stop-and-search abuse in 2012. I know so because your paper printed the article.

Fact: stop-and-search never reduced violence in Bermuda and it never will. It never helped to take back our society and it certainly never made Bermuda a safer place.


Hamilton Parish

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Published Aug 30, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 30, 2018 at 9:51 am)

Stop-and-search not the answer

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