Here is what London’s Metropolitan Police say about stop and search:
Being stopped does not mean you are under arrest or have done something wrong. In some cases, people are stopped as part of a wide-ranging effort to catch criminals in a targeted public place.
A police officer, or a community support officer must have a good reason for stopping or searching you and they are required to tell you what that reason is.
Reasons include that the police officer thinks you are carrying drugs, or there has been violence or disorder in the vicinity.
It is safe to say that stop and search is a really bad idea. It is reasonable to expect to be left alone by the authorities when you are going about your lawful business. However:
Of the Reading the Riots interviewees, 73% said they had been stopped and searched in the past 12 months – they were more than eight times more likely than the general population in London to have been stopped and searched in the previous year.
Reading the Riots is a report by the Guardian and the London School of Economics who interviewed 270 rioters to find out why they said they rioted. One could argue that cause and effect are reversed; the rioters are criminals and that is why they get stopped and searched a lot.
Theodore Dalrymple, who I do not think is right about everything but is right about a lot, analyses what he calls the underclass in his book Life at the Bottom. Reading through some of the quotes from rioters in the Guardian, his analysis rings true. The essence of it is that people have decided that bad things just happen to them and it is not their fault. Their view of themselves as victims is reinforced by their social workers who get their ideas from articles in the Guardian.
From the Guardian’s report of the research:
Rioters identified a range of political grievances, but at the heart of their complaints was a pervasive sense of injustice. For some this was economic: the lack of money, jobs or opportunity. For others it was more broadly social: how they felt they were treated compared with others.
This sense of being treated unfairly is exactly the victimhood mind-set. As for jobs, Dalrymple writes:
the unemployed young person considers the number of jobs in an economy as a fixed quantity. Just as the national income is a cake to be doled out in equal or unequal slices, so the number of jobs in an economy has nothing to do with the conduct of the people who live in it but is immutably fixed. This is a concept of the way the world works that has been assiduously peddled, not only in schools during ‘social studies’ but in the media of mass communication.
So stop stopping and searching because it is a good idea anyway, but they will find other excuses to riot.