We share the letter sent by ARE Chief Executive, Jeremy Crook calling on the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the Metropolitan Police to end the Gangs’ Violence Matrix. This form part of Action for Race Equality’s campaign to highlight the impact of the Matrix on young Black Londoners.
You can download it here, or read the text version below.
If you support our calls, you can add your name to the signatories by filling in this form.
Mayor of London
London E16 1ZE
SCRAP THE MATRIX: a call from young Black Londoners and campaigners to the Met to end the Gangs’ Violence Matrix
I hope this letter finds you well.
I am writing to you in my capacity as Chief Executive of Action for Race Equality and vicechair of the EQUAL national independent advisory group (NIAG) supported by ARE. ARE is a national charity that champions fairness, challenges discrimination and pioneer’s innovative solutions to empower Black, Asian and Mixed Heritage people through education, employment and enterprise. The NIAG works collaboratively to improve outcomes for Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage and Muslim offenders and to bring about equity in the CJS. It is comprised of representatives from the voluntary sector, academia, and funders. Officials from Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Board and HM Prison and Probation Service also attend meetings and seek views on policy development.
Today, Action for Race Equality released a new film in which criminal justice campaigners and young Black people issue an urgent call to the Metropolitan Police Service to scrap the Gang’s Violence Matrix. As you will know, this is an undercover database used by the Met to monitor alleged ‘gang-related activity’ in London for the past ten years. Individuals who find themselves listed face a range of detrimental consequences such as denial of essential public services.
The Matrix has already been widely challenged by leading human rights and community organisations, for its punitive and ineffective approach to tackling serious youth violence. Your review (2018) set out actions to improve the operation of the Matrix but fell short of recommending that it should be shut down. Moreover, researchers and campaigners have warned of its deeply embedded racial biases which disproportionately target young Black men. As of 30th September 2022, 78% of all those on the GVM are Black, despite making up only 13% of the total London population.
The new film, based on interviews and workshops carried out by Action for Race Equality to engage young people, sees criminal justice experts, Leroy Logan MBE (former Metropolitan Police Superintendent and a founder of the Black Police Association); Lana Adamou (Lawyer at Liberty UK); Katrina Ffrench (Director and Founder of UNJUST CIC); Sammy Odoi (Founder of Wipers CIC), Jeremy Crook OBE (CEO of Action for Race Equality); and young Black people share their views on the emotional, psychological and social toll the Matrix and the ‘over policing’ of Black communities has on young Black Londoners.
“I think it leaves specifically young Black men hopeless, because it shows that, no matter how hard I work, I’m not going to be seen to break out of the stereotypes that have been placed on me.”Lamar, A-Level Student
“We all want to feel safe in our communities, but the Gangs Matrix isn’t about keeping us safe – it’s about keeping tabs on and controlling people, with communities of colour and Black people worst affected. The Gangs Matrix is fuelled heavily by racist stereotypes, based on who people are friends with, who their family members are, where they live, and where they go.”Lana Adamou – Lawyer, Liberty
Action for Race Equality calls on the Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police to take the following five steps immediately:
- To abolish the Gangs’ Violence Matrix in its entirety;
- To ensure full accountability and transparency around the Gangs’ Violence Matrix,
including but not limited to:
- Defining a ‘gang member’;
- Disclosing which agencies have access to GVM data, and;
- Creating a genuine method of removing a person from the GVM until it is
- To inform young people that their name is on the database, and the steps that they can take to complain and/or remove themselves;
- To consider the existence of the GVM as a safeguarding issue and work closely with Black, Asian, Mixed Heritage, Muslim and voluntary community organisations that are best placed to support young people;
- To ensure that current and future intelligence gathering bodies learn from the
lessons of the GVM and have transparent best practice guidelines that guarantee
racial equality in data collection.
We are happy to arrange a meeting with any of the organisations involved in this
campaign for you or your nominee. We would certainly welcome confirmation that the above actions will be taken to ensure the racial discrimination caused by the existence of the GVM will end with the closedown of the Matrix.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Jeremy Crook OBE