The Equality and Human Rights Commission has joined with the Association of Chief Police Officers to call for faster improvements in the police’s use of stop and search. It has published new research which builds on the Commission’s ongoing work on stop and search showing the extent of the progress which some forces need to make.
The new research looks at how police forces are using stop and search powers under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. It finds that some of the police forces in England stop and search a much higher proportion of Black, Asian and mixed ethnicity people than others in their community.
This can be justified if the intention is to tackle a specific, immediate issue. However, the information received by the Commission did not always explain why a particular ethnic group was to be targeted under these orders. This makes it difficult to justify any imbalance in who is being stopped and searched and could leave police officers exposed to discrimination claims.
The Metropolitan, Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and British Transport Police forces each carried out more than 2,000 s60 stops and searches in 2008-11. Of these six forces, Greater Manchester, West Midlands and the British Transport Police had the highest Black / White and mixed / White disproportionality ratios. The West Midlands also had the highest Asian / White disproportionality ratios.
The Commission’s ongoing work with the police on stop and search under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1994 has led to significant improvements. It is successfully collaborating with the five police forces that previously had the biggest disproportion figures for race. Early indications are that the forces are reducing the disproportion while keeping up the effectiveness of their policing.
Simon Woolley, lead Commissioner on race for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“It has been encouraging that some forces, such as the Metropolitan Police, have recognised the need to end disproportionate stop and search. Evidence-led policing is much more effective, and avoids alienating the very people who should be helping the police to catch criminals.
“We will continue working with Association of Chief Police Officers, the Home Office and individual police forces to ensure that effective and targeted policing is also fully in line with forces responsibilities to demonstrate equality and respect for human rights.”