1 Mar 2020
Met removes hundreds from gangs matrix after breaking data laws
Hundreds of young people have been removed from a controversial police list of alleged gang members after claims that it is discriminatory and blighted their life chances, the Guardian has learned.
More than 370 people have been removed from the matrix, and the way the list is put together will be reviewed to make sure the right suspects are on it.
The aim of the matrix is to list the most violent offenders so police can target them. But the data and analytics used has caused problems.
Community pressure led to scrutiny of the matrix, which had been operated in secret since 2011, unearthing a host of problems. These included concerns that it featured some young men who were not involved in gang violence.
A 2018 report for the mayor of London found the list overly targeted young black men. “The representation of young black males on the matrix is disproportionate to their likelihood of criminality,” it said.
Furthermore Amnesty International claimed it was the centrepiece of a “racialised war on gangs”.
Lawyers for some of those who feel they were wrongly caught up in the matrix have been considering suing.
In 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office found the gangs matrix was potentially breaking data protection laws and failed to distinguish between victims of crime and offenders. In an embarrassing move for the Met, the ICO issued Britain’s biggest force with formal enforcement notices to improve.