Black people more affected by Stop and Search, new bill likely to continue the trend

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Black people are nearly seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than whites in England and Wales, it can be revealed.

Home office data, released in November 2021, shows that black people—followed by Asians and other ethnic minority groups—are far more likely than whites to be stopped by police. 

The figures also show that the use of stop and search is on the rise, use of the practice has increased by 24 per cent since last year.

Previous stop and search data have shown a rise in the last three years in the disparity between searches of black individuals and white individuals, although this year the gap between the two narrowed—from nine times more likely to be searched down to seven times more likely.  

Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has acknowledged that black men are more likely to be searched than white men but has claimed that no one has been targeted by the colour of their skin.

The Metropolitan Police were responsible for 47 per cent of all stop and searches in England for the year ending March 2021.

Black individuals are far more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than other ethnicities.

A February 2021 report released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services said that the disproportionality of stop and searches could undermine the legitimacy of police in certain communities.

HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams CBE, wrote: “The damage caused by unexplained disproportionality can be far-reaching and long-lasting. It may lead to more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people being drawn into the criminal justice system, disrupting their education and family lives, and reducing their work opportunities.

“It feeds perceptions among the public and police about Black people and crime, and may also influence how the police allocate and deploy resources. This, in turn, exacerbates the imbalances in the criminal justice system.”

The latest figures released by the Home Office were subject to a three-week delay in reporting.

Activists have claimed that the Home Office may have been reluctant to release the figures due to the Government’s two controversial bills, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and the Nationality and Borders Bill passing through the House of Commons.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill gives wider powers to police with regard to stop and search specifically with regard to protestors and those suspected of committing knife crimes.

The bill would expand Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994. Section 60 orders allow police to search anyone in a given area for a set length of time. The orders are designed for weapons searches and have been hugely controversial among police watchdog groups.

The Network for Police Monitoring (NETPol) has helped create a coalition of activist groups called the Kill the Bill Coalition.

In a statement, it said: “The Bill expands stop and search powers, which are already regularly used to harass and terrorise young black people. This must go.”

Additionally, under the expanded powers, police would be able to search protesters looking for “lock-on” equipment, which is used to tie or lock protesters in place and make it more difficult for police to remove them.

The Government has previously said that the bill gives police the ability to “tackle non-violent protests that have a significant disruptive effect on the public or on access to Parliament.”

Only one per cent of stop and searches between March 2020 and March 2021 were conducted under a Section 60 order.

Kill the Bill protesters in Parliament Square.

On July 5, the House of Commons passed the legislation with the voting taking place along party lines.

Former Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said of the bill: “The Bill continues to ignore the disproportionality that exists from start to finish in the criminal justice system. Black people have bravely stepped forward to share their testimony of structural racism and the impact it still has. This Government seem to want to deny that structural racism even exists.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed: “The Bill delivers on our promise to the British people to keep them safe. It backs our police with improved powers and more support for officers and their families in recognition of the unique and enormous sacrifices that they make.”

The bill is currently in the report stage in the House of Lords where it has already been amended.

OTHER PROVISIONS IN THE LEGISLATION:

•   Increased police authority to stop and search suspected knife carriers and protestors.

•   Introduce criminal penalties to those living in unauthorised encampments.

•   Give whole-life sentences to people convicted of the premeditated murder of a child.

•   Double the maximum sentence for assaults on police and emergency workers.

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