Police list of suspected gang members in Newham is leaked on social media
PUBLISHED: 15:25 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:54 09 November 2018
The names of young people suspected by police of having gang links in the borough has been leaked by an 'unknown professional' in Newham.
Experts say hundreds of young people were placed in serious danger when pages from the Met’s Gangs Matrix were “lost” on two separate occasions, photographed and circulated on social media.
It is understood that a page from the top secret document was leaked in May and further information was again shared in September last year.
The Information Commissioner is now investigating the data breach.
The Met has refused to confirm how many identities were revealed, saying only that officers had “risk assessed every individual on the list and taken appropriate action where necessary.”
Sheldon Thomas, a former gang member and founder of training organisation Gangsline, said: “Hundreds of lives have potentially been put at risk.
“It is dangerous for a young person if their name is attached to a gang like that. Rival gangs could see it and say ‘I didn’t know so and so was running with them, let’s sort them out’.
“Someone should have lost their job.”
The Matrix was set up in the wake of the 2011 London riots and contains information on around 3,800 people, including their believed affiliations and a “harm score” of green, amber or red, to denote how deeply they are considered to be engaged in gang-related activities.
The data breach was revealed in a report into failings which led to the gangland murder of 14-year-old Corey Junior Davis, who was shot in the head in a playground in Forest Gate last September.
Corey was first listed on Newham’s Gangs Matrix in December 2016 as a “green nominal” because authorities believed he was “easily influenced” and “associating with troublemakers”. Seven months later he was raised to amber.
The independent report found pages of the January 2017 Newham Matrix were “shared on social media and accessed by a number of young people” before Corey’s death.
Investigators said there was “no evidence to suggest a causal link between the data breach and Corey’s murder” but added “it is acknowledged there are lessons to be learned”.
Tanya O’Carroll, lead researcher on Amnesty International’s report into the Matrix said the data breach was “shocking but not surprising”.
She said: “A lot of the young people on the list will be in the green category and may not have had much interaction with police. Of course a leak like this puts them in serious danger.
“It’s not just the danger of physical harm. If someone sees that a person is on a gangs list that tarnishes them.”
A criminal investigation into how the information came into the public domain was “inconclusive”, a Met spokesman said.
He added: “Police have risk assessed every individual on the list and taken appropriate action where necessary.
“The Met has also reviewed its local data sharing practices as a result of this investigation.”
James Dipple-Johnstone, deputy commissioner for operations at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said it was working with police “as part of an investigation into their use of a ‘gang database’.”
City Hall is also reviewing the Met’s use of the Gangs Matrix.
Amnesty claimed in May that the intelligence database was “racially discriminatory” in a report which revealed that 78 per cent of those named were black males, and more than a third had committed no serious crimes
The Met said the matrix helped “prevent young lives being lost”.
Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, said the review “should be completed before the end of the year”.
Mayor of Newham Rokhasana Fiaz added: “The review outlined a number of changes in both practice and protocol which have since been implemented and these include changes made to the information shared relating to the Gangs Matrix. We adhere to the Data Protection Act and work to ensure all data is protected and held securely.”