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Liverpool MP condemns armed stop and search of two black men

Wednesday June 29, 2022

Footage of the stop and search by armed officers has emerged on social media

An MP has condemned a police force's decision to carry out an armed stop and search of two black men in Liverpool.

Footage of officers stopping the men in Toxteth has emerged on social media, leading to criticism over whether it was "proportionate or necessary".

Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson said she believed Merseyside Police was "institutionally racist".

The force said the search was "justified and appropriate" and in line with established procedures.

The footage showed armed officers pointing guns at the two men, who were stopped in the street on Monday.

Merseyside Police said it had received a report just after 21:15 BST of a man carrying a handgun at the junction of Princes Road and North Hill Street.

The force said the man had tucked the gun into his waistband.

A spokesman said two men were later spotted on nearby Mulgrave Street and one matched the physical and clothing description.

He added that handcuffs were used during the search because of the firearms report, but nothing was found on either of the men and no further action was taken.

MP Kim Johnson said she would be pursuing her concerns with the force

Ms Johnson said it was "still an issue" that black people were disproportionately stopped by police in Liverpool and she would be pursuing her concerns with the force.

"I do believe that Merseyside Police is institutionally racist," she told BBC North West Tonight.

"It's not just about the one or two bad apples, it's about the culture of the organisation and the culture of the organisation has to change.

"I understand that [Merseyside Police] have a job to do, but it has to be proportionate."

'Mistaken identity'

Sharing the footage on Twitter, Granby Somali Women's Group said "two unarmed black boys" were left "traumatised by armed Merseyside Police stopping them with guns".

The charity group accused officers of "rough handling" the men and said such "aggressive behaviour" could "scar young black males".

"This is not a rare occurrence, as Merseyside Police are driving around stopping individuals like it's the Wild West in the L8 area," a spokeswoman for the charity said.

She added that such incidents "scar young black males, which leads to a negative, hostile relationship with the police".

She said it "not only makes policing hard within the community but [breaks] the trust that should be placed in a public-serving body, which should serve the needs of everyone, not just the few".

In a statement, Merseyside Police Supt Diane Pownall said while she understood the footage could look "quite intimidating", the safety of the public was the force's "paramount concern".

She said footage from police body-worn cameras had been viewed and "given the information received from the member of the public, the stop search was justified and appropriate".

She added that she had been in touch with local councillors and Ms Johnson over their concerns and had invited them to a meeting to discuss what happened.


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