Metropolitan Police officers are allegedly still stopping people based solely on the smell of cannabis – eight months after agreeing to end the practice.
Sadiq Khan admitted that he couldn’t “give a number to confirm it’s zero” in a Mayor’s Question Time grilling by Islington councillor Caroline Russell.
Russell revealed that she had heard complaints of cannabis-led stop and searches as recently as 15 June – even though Scotland Yard agreed to stop the practice last September.
“I can let you know that I have spoken to a youth-led project called Hackney Account that confirmed on 15 June that young people are still being stopped and searched on just the basis of the smell of cannabis alone.
“So what’s worrying about this is you know we’re accepting the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) recommendations but they don’t seem to be filtering down to the all the officers on the street.
“I’m sure you’re aware and then half the people stopped and searched in the last year were teenagers and young people, and it has a big impact on their lives – and importantly, how they view the police.”
The IOPC ordered officers to stop searching people solely based on the smell of cannabis after Black cyclist Emmanuel Arthur was searched after a traffic dispute.
Russell told the Islington Citizen that the tactic’s use shows a “failure of leadership” at Scotland Yard.
She fumed: “The Met going back on their word and apparently continuing to stop and search solely on the smell of cannabis is a failure in leadership and puts young people in danger of being unfairly targeted.
“It has been eight months since the Met accepted the IOPC recommendations, so it’s worrying that the Mayor could not give a clear answer about whether this practice has stopped.
“More than half of the people stopped and searched in the last year were teenagers and young people, and it has a big impact on their lives and how they view the police.
“These recommendations cannot be taken lightly, and it is the Mayor’s duty to make sure they filter down to the actions of all officers on the street.”