Research and action for fair and accountable policing

About Twitter Instagram Facebook Donate

Met removes names from gangs matrix

Controversial database trimmed down in face of mounting pressure from campaign groups and data watchdog

The Metropolitan police say they have removed hundreds of names from the gangs matrix, more than two years after findings from Amnesty International revealed the extent of the database, and fifteen months after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found the database in breach of data protection legislation.

In November 2018, the data regulator issued an enforcement notice compelling the force to ensure the controversial database complied with data protection legislation.

Channel 4 News reported that in recent months, 374 names were removed and 181 added, leaving a current total of 2,552 names, more than a thousand fewer than in October 2017, when Amnesty International uncovered nearly 4,000 names.

The Guardian reports that under half of the names (1,063) are currently in custody, two thirds (1,581) are in the green category (those assessed to cause the least harm), while only 144 are in the highest harm category (red).

‘People have a right to know whether they’ve been on this database and whether they’ve been removed.’
-- Katrina Ffrench, chief executive, StopWatch UK

Campaigners cautiously welcomed the announcement, but believe the Met could do more to make the database more accountable. Stafford Scott of the Monitoring Group, one of the leading critics of the gangs matrix, told reporter Symeon Brown that at least twice as many names should have been removed ‘if this was a real meaningful attempt at putting right this dreadful database that was set up using discriminatory, erroneous and unlawful information.’

In an interview with Channel 4 News, StopWatch chief executive Katrina Ffrench said how since its inception in the aftermath of the 2011 riots, the gangs matrix has always had, and continues to have ‘no oversight… no robust analysis as to whether it has been effective at reducing serious violence’ and raised doubts as to whether it has had any effect on violent crime.

Ffrench added: ‘I would encourage people that have been on the matrix to seek legal advice to look at civil compensation and a civil route to remedy some of the harm that has been caused over the last nine years.

‘People have a right to know whether they’ve been on this database and whether they’ve been removed.’

What is the gangs matrix?

The gangs matrix is a secret police database containing the personal details of those the police consider to be in a gang. It has been accused of being racist, illegitimate and unfit for purpose by a range of academics, activists and human rights organisations.

Andre Wallace-Loizou investigates how the matrix operates and how it affects those on it. Amnesty International, Stopwatch and The 4Front Project judge its effectiveness and explore how individuals can challenge their data being stored.

The documentary film ‘The Gangs Matrix’, will be screened at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre on 22 February and will feature a live Q&A. You can watch the trailer for the film below.

The gangs matrix is an ILLEGAL police database, preventing young black men from accessing housing, benefits and education.

Full documentary out: 22/02/2020

Book tickets to the screening here (it’s free!)*:

— Wallace (@King_Che_W) January 26, 2020

Call to action

StopWatch is encouraging people to get in touch if they believe that they are on / were on the Met police gangs matrix. Lawyers are on hand to assist with civil claims as the Met police were unlawful in how they processed data and must be held accountable.

Contact StopWatch: [email protected]

* the screening is sold out

More articles


Support our work

We take one-off donations and regular payments. Any amount we receive helps to support us in our mission and keeps us independent


Sign up to our newsletter

For regular updates on our activities and to learn how you can get involved with us

Sign up to our newsletter