Thursday, September 21, 2006

Media misrepresentation

The Met continues its fine way of shooting itself in the foot, I note: coverage of the apparent disproportionalities in drug searches- see here.

I'm not going to comment on the arrest figures, and the hows and why's of arrest for cannabis- I suspect that each local borough has its own priorities and "aggravating" factors that render you more or less likely to be arrested: I could spend hours debating that in itself before considering the ethnic aspect.

I am more concerned but equally unsurprised about the lack of comprehensive reporting on what happens after arrest.

When it comes to a charging decision, there are home office set guidelines as to whether a person should be cautioned or charged. Put simply, a person can only be cautioned if they have not been convicted or cautioned for a similar offence in the previous three years.

If they have, then a caution is simply not an available option.

If a caution is not an available option, police officers cannot make the decision to charge. Most charging decisions, including possession of controlled substances, are now made directly by the Crown Prosecution Service.

However, to read the reports you would come to the apparently understandable conclusion that the police are deliberately sending more black people than white people to court. The reality is we have no say in that matter.

Instead of pointing this out, Ch Supt Dizaei helpfully instead comments that drug users are predominantly white middle class men. Nice to know he's helping to bring a more balanced logic to the situation. (Somebody please tell me if the Biased Broadcasting Corporation have quoted him out of context......)