LA month later, it turned out that there was an increase of police powers to "stop and search" by 400%. According to a recent Guardian report, there is evidence that blacks are disproportionately targeted. It's deeply depressing. There are real reasons for concern that re-use of this strategy of police work is to save the trouble.
Our new Beyond Contagion report, released today, supports the standpoint that stopping and seeking may have unintended but significant social and psychological consequences. We investigated data patterns in the riots in 2011, especially as these events appeared and expanded. The significance of disorder is undeniable: it has been the biggest wave of riot in the UK since the 1980s and has covered about 20,000 people with more than 4,000 arrests. It is important to understand the underlying causes.
In our research, we used a comprehensive set of data, including videos, social media, interviews, and crime data. One part of our analysis looked at the differences between those London neighborhoods that saw the unnecessary and the non-existent. Of the various factors we have observed, deprivation (using the Multiple Deficit Indices for 2010) was the one that most strongly correlated with whether or not a city saw any nuisance or not. The second part of our analysis examined the survey data of the city police. This has shown that previous negative attitudes towards the police, including the belief that the police with respect to people do not respect, positively correlate with the number of neighborhood riots.
We also investigated London Stop and Search data for 2009, 2010 and January-July 2011 (months before the riot in August 2011). In the analysis, we included all categories of stops and searches, and adjusted numbers for the population size. We have found that urban quarters with more stops and searches in two and a half years before those who were more likely to experience scars in August 2011. that the disadvantage was 8.442 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is more than twice the average number (4,141) for the six municipalities that did not see any nuisance.
One interpretation of this finding is that stopping and searching was a factor in disorder. Correlation, of course, is not the cause, so only this data can not show the link. However, when we re-analyze some of the extensive interview data collected within the Guardian's Reading the Riots project, there seems to be a link.
It is a minority of respondents who have described experiences of stopping and searching experience. But that was a great minority. Twenty-six participants attending the riots at Brixton, Clapham or Croydon spoke about stopping and searching and other forms of police attention they described as unfair.
These meetings with the police had several features that illuminate the social relationships created by the rate and the search. First, stopping and searching was a profoundly humiliating experience. Second, the humiliation is experienced jointly and individually. Therefore, it did not matter whether people experienced personal stopping and searching; they saw these and similar encounters with the police as an attack on "us". Third, people used these experiences to explain their hostility to the police and their involvement in the disorder.
When people already feel alienated and deprived, police interventions such as stopping and searching point their face to the contrary. They serve to create a community that is in conflict – a community in which opposition to the police is part of a common identity around which people are mobilized.
Please note that last year's increase in number of stops and searches was accompanied by a slight drop in the number of arrests. The difference between the number of stops and searches and the number of arrests was also a feature of the period just before the riots. For example, in Haringey in 2009, only 4.8% of those arrested and searched were arrested, which means that more than 30,000 unsuccessful searches were conducted in the county that year.
From a police perspective, these figures may indicate that stopping and searching is ineffective. In his own research report of the College of Policing, it was concluded that there was only "limited evidence of stoppage and search because it acted as a means of deterrence [to crime] at the municipal level ". From the perspective of young people in the black and working class who are disproportionately focused, disagreement between search and arrests only supports the perception that stopping and searching is a form of collective harassment.
Stop and search are deeply poisonous, especially when people feel they are stopping because of their class or ethnic affiliation. Our research shows that this is a critical part of the social process where nerds occur. If we do not stop seeing stop and look for a solution, not part of the problem, they will be repeated.
• John Drury is a professor of social psychology at the University of Sussex. Project Beyond Contagion performed Drury, Roger Ball, Clifford Stott, Stephen Reicher and Fergus Neville