More than half of suspects charged in London over robbery and knife-point muggings last year were black, official figures revealed today.
The Met statistics show that 7,956 people were taken to court for robbery during the 12 months to the end of March of whom 55 per cent were black. Just under a third of suspects were white, while 11 per cent were Asian.
Three out of five of the 1,613 suspects charged with knife-point muggings were also black, compared with 27 per cent white and 10 per cent Asian.
The figures also show that Westminster had the highest number of robberies and Southwark had the most knife-point muggings. They will prompt renewed debate about the best ways of countering street crime and follow a pledge by new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to focus stop-and-search - which is used to target potential robbers - on known offenders.
Critics claim that searches are used disproportionately, with government figures showing that black people are 4.5 times more likely to be searched in London than white people.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also show that in some of the worst affected boroughs for muggings and knife-point robberies, the proportion of black people charged last year was significantly higher.
In Lambeth and Lewisham, for example, three-quarters of those taken to court for robbery were black, while in Southwark the proportion was 69 per cent, although in Westminster black suspects accounted for only 37 per cent of the 495 people charged.
Across the capital, 4,363 of the alleged robbers charged were black, compared with 2,166 "white north Europeans", 360 "white south Europeans" and 860 Asians. The rest were Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, south-east Asian or of "unknown" ethnicity.
Separate figures for people charged for "knife-enabled robberies" - in which a victim is either shown a blade or told that the offender is carrying one - show that 967 of the 1,613 alleged offenders last year were black. That represents 60 per cent.