Amnesty International report: Trapped in the Matrix

The Gang Matrix is is a racially biased database criminalising a generation of young black men.

This is according to Amnesty International, who have published a May 2018 report on the Gang Matrix; a database of suspected gang members in London and an associated campaign.

It claims that the database is a practice of the Metropolitan Police and other government services which view youth violence, gun and knife crime in London through a politicised lens of a ‘war against the gang’.

Amnesty International’s research on the Gang Matrix finds that:

  • While it purports to be a risk management tool focused on preventing serious violence, 40% of people listed on the matrix have no record of involvement in any violent offence in the past two years and 35% have never committed any ‘serious offence’.
  • The concepts of the ‘gang’ and ‘gang member’ are vague and ill-defined, and the process for adding and removing people from the database lacks clear parameters; this leads to over-broad and arbitrary identification of people as gang members.
  • Many of the indicators used by the Metropolitan Police to identify ‘gang members’ simply conflates elements of urban youth culture with violent offending.
  • The matrix has taken on the form of digital profiling; 78% of individuals on the Gangs Matrix are black, a number which is disproportionate both to the black population of London (13%) and the percentage of black people among those identified by the police as responsible for serious youth violence in London (27%).

The evidence leads Amnesty International to conclude that the Gangs Violence Matrix is not compliant with international human rights law.

Read the report in full (pdf) and see Amnesty’s campaign against the gang matrix.