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Amnesty criticizes UK gangs matrix as discriminatory

[JURIST] London's Metropolitan Police Gangs Violence Matrix discriminates based on race and violates individuals' privacy, according to an Amnesty International UK [advocacy website] report published Wednesday, titled Trapped in the Matrix [text, PDF].

The Gangs Matrix labels individuals as red, amber or green based on their "propensity for violence." The label assigned to individuals is partially based on information gathered through monitoring the individuals' social media. The matrix includes 3,806 individuals as of October 2017. As of 2016, 35 percent of those had never actually committed a serious offense. In July 2016 it was reported that 87 percent of the individuals were black (78 percent), Asian or minority ethnic. This represents a disproportionate amount of black individuals, who are responsible for only 27 percent of the serious youth violence in London.

The report states that it is unclear how many government agencies have access to this list, and that information about those on the list are given during multi-agency meetings held within the boroughs with "little clarity or safeguards around how the data should be used or shared." The report criticizes the lack of clear definition of what a gang is, thus resulting in uncertainty about who is actually able to be included in the matrix.

Amnesty has called for the dismantlement of the program. If it is not dismantled, Amnesty has called for the program not to discriminate and for data sharing agreements to be established between the government agencies. Amnesty has also called for assurance that inclusion on the list does not result in agencies responsible for housing, citizenship, immigration, access to housing, education, eligibility for welfare or sentencing equating gang association to wrongdoing.

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