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Met drops ‘gangs matrix’ accused of targeting young black Londoners

The controversial “gangs matrix” used by the Met to identify dangerous street offenders has ben ditched by the Met(Met Police/PA)
The controversial “gangs matrix” used by the Met to identify dangerous street offenders has ben ditched by the Met(Met Police/PA)

The controversial “gangs matrix” used by the Met to identify dangerous street offenders was today ditched by the force in response to concerns about disproportionate targeting of young black Londoners.

Scotland Yard said the database, which once held the details of several thousand young people suspected of links to gangs, was being replaced by a new “violence harm assessment”.

It will be used to identify and target the most violent people in each part of London, regardless of whether they are in gangs or not.

Today’s decision to scrap the gangs matrix was welcomed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and follows a public consultation and years of controversy about the impact of the database.

A report by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2018 found that the database had led to breaches of data protection laws and that police were failing to distinguish properly between offenders and victims when adding names to the matrix.

It said that some were on the database despite not committing crimes and that other names were being left on for

too long, while information about those on the list was being shared with

housing and education providers,

creating the “potential to have a significant adverse impact on an individual’s life”.

A report for City Hall the same year also found that young black men were being included in the list disproportionately to their involvement in crime.

Announcing the scrapping of the gangs matrix today, Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist said the Met had “listened to the concerns about disproportionality on the gangs violence matrix and spent the past year engaging with community members and relevant stakeholders, to ensure we have complete transparency about our new approach to tackling the most violent and harmful offenders in London. The gangs violence matrix will no longer exist.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan added: “The Met has reached an important decision to move to a new, more targeted approach to dealing with violence in the capital. The violence harm assessment is a significant change that will help the Met pursue the most prolific offenders and, where appropriate, provide an opportunity to work with partners to support those who are vulnerable to violence, gangs and criminal exploitation.

“But there is still a lot of work to do and Londoners will rightly judge this new approach on results.”

The Met said that the new violence harm assessment would “complement the... ongoing work in this area by identifying violence linked to increased gang tensions in London” and would allow the force “to be as precise as possible in focussing on those who do the most harm”.

It emphasised that gang offenders would still be targeted, using a “similar level of precision-led policing” to that already deployed to identify and pursue the capital’s “most dangerous and violent sexual predators”