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Oct 4 · Last update 19 days ago.

What is the Gangs Matrix database used by London Met police?

In 2012 the London Metropolitan Police Service devised the Gangs Matrix, or Gangs Violence Matrix, a database of all alleged street gang members across the city. The database went on to list thousands of names and personal details of mostly young black men that the police claim are at risk of committing gang related crime and violence. Over the last ten years of its history the Gangs Matrix database has been a subject of controversy in the capital, but such tactics remain in place and are still used by London police. What is the Gangs Matrix database and how is it used by London Metropolitan police? What are the outcomes of this style of data gathering by police? What effect does this have on crime, gangs and youth justice?
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Reverse gang grooming
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Necessary
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Reverse gang grooming

It is important to bare in mind that when investigating the gangs matrix database the Information Commissioner warned that the system had led to denial of services and other adverse consequences as the matrix often failed to distinguish between victims and offenders of crime. This has effectively led the gangs matrix to generate the same exact same outcome for some vulnerable youngsters in London that it aims to protect against, in fact pushing more young black men to be in gangs rather than away from them, it could in essence be reverse gang grooming. There have been numerous cases of concern with the gangs matrix, wrongful arrest, unjustified threats of eviction, wrongly seizure of vehicles, bans from extracurricular education centres, and a horrible case of a boy's mother being put into a care home while he was denied the status of her carer as he was wrongly placed on the database.

The database is already racially biased, so if you are a black male from an economically deprived area you are automatically more likely to be on the database, if you live near or go to school with someone in a gang you are then increasingly likely to added to the gangs matrix, which could lead to the denial of services, such as housing, social care and in one case basic benefits such as a driving license. On top of this black men are more likely to be racially profiled in London; with all this guilt by skin colour, guilt by association and possible police harassment, the police are giving economically youths no choice but to join gangs. Baring in mind that the databases often falsely lists victims of gang violence as perpetrators, if you are especially vulnerable, from a deprived area, cannot access housing or social services, and more likely to be harassed by police, the gangs matrix is more likely to add to gangs than to effectively police them.

wired.co.uk/article/gangs-matrix-violence-london-predictive-policing amnesty.org.uk/london-trident-gangs-matrix-metropolitan-police hayesconnor.co.uk/news-and-resources/news/police-gangs-database-breached-data-protection-laws

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Oct 9
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DH edited this paragraph
It is important to bare in mind that when investigating the gangs matrix database the Information Commissioner warned that the system had led to denial of services and other adverse consequences as the matrix often failed to distinguish between victims and offenders of crime. This has effectively led the gangs matrix to generate the same exact same outcome for some vulnerable youngsters in London that it aims to protect against, in fact pushing more young black men to be in gangs rather than away from them, it could in essence be reverse gang grooming. There have been numerous cases of concern with the gangs matrix, wrongful arrest, unjustified threats of eviction, wrongly seizure of vehicles, bans from extracurricular education centres, and a horrible case of a boy's mother being put into a care home while he was denied the status of her carer as he was wrongly placed on the database.

Future Concern

Despite widespread critique of the Metropolitan Police's Gangs Matrix database the Met look set to start secretly using a more invasive and discriminatory systems, making breaches data protection laws look potentially minor in comparison. Amnesty International have described the Gangs Violence Matrix as “a racially biased database criminalising a generation of young black men” [1], concern is now being raised over "Concern Hub", a new system designed by Scotland Yard that is already secretly on trial across London. This lack of transparency with Concern Hub casts doubt on the Mets claim that the system will safeguard young people at risk of becoming involved in violence, drugs, or gang activity. This also comes at a time when criticism of the Police's use of AI and algorithms is coming into question elsewhere in the country. Durham Constabulary's Harm Assessment Risk Tool (HART) which uses AI to predict the reoffence risk of suspects has been slated and has had to be redesigned due to its use of post codes - essentially programming a computer to discriminate based on socioeconomic status.

[1] wired.co.uk/article/gangs-matrix-violence-london-predictive-policing wired.co.uk/article/police-ai-uk-durham-hart-checkpoint-algorithm-edit

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Oct 9
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Necessary

London’s gang violence issues are widely recognised as out of control, the authorities cannot just ignore the threats and serious violence that such gangs pose, London's Metropolitan Police (Met) crime statistics show that 69% of shootings and around a quarter of all homicide in the capital is related to gangs. Gang grooming of youths is also a significant component that needs dealing with, the Met need to be able to gather intelligence on and track gang members and those that may be susceptible to joining gang. While there have been issues with the Gang Matrix system that the police use to track the identities of those most likely to fall into this world, namely the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) findings that data breaches had occurred in 2018, the Met have since taken steps to improve the database and have removed thousands from it. The ICO consequently lifted their Enforcement Notice for this issue in February 2020 stating that they were satisfied with the changes made.

thesun.co.uk/news/6840838/police-london-moped-gangs-crime-trevor-kavanagh theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/03/a-thousand-young-black-men-removed-from-met-gang-violence-prediction-database london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/gvm_update_jan_2021_final_for_publication_.pdf met.police.uk/police-forces/metropolitan-police/areas/about-us/about-the-met/gangs-violence-matrix thesun.co.uk/news/5736290/police-gang-matrix-database-saving-lives

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Discriminatory

The Metropolitan police's Gang Matrix database was first operated in secret following the London Riots in 2011, as part of the ruling conservative party's racialised "war on gangs", despite the fact that the majority of crimes carried out during the riots were clearly opportunism and in spite of the riots being sparked by the police shooting Mark Duggen. The Gang Violence Matrix is essentially a predictive policing tool that uses a dangerous guilt by association logic. The police have filled the database with largely with people that may happen to be friends and family members of gang members, or those associated with individuals known by the police to be members of gangs, or most disturbingly by sharing certain grime and drill music videos online. The problem being that by being just a family member, neighbour, or school friend of a potential gang member a resident of London could find their details on the database, an investigation commissioned by London Mayor Shadiq Khan in 2018 found that 38% of the people on the list posed no risk of committing criminal acts. In November 2019 Britain’s watchdog for data use, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), decided the Gang Matrix breached data protection rules, as it couldn't clearly distinguish between victims and perpetrators of crime, however this enforcement notice lifted in 2021 and the database continues to be in use.

theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/03/a-thousand-young-black-men-removed-from-met-gang-violence-prediction-database ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2018/11/ico-finds-metropolitan-police-service-s-gangs-matrix-breached-data-protection-laws thecanary.co/uk/2018/09/24/the-met-polices-gang-database-is-ineffective-humiliating-and-racist-2

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