In the year to March 2020, ethnic minorities were more than four times as likely to be stopped and searched as white people in England and Wales – with the figure almost nine times higher for black people specifically. Black people were also over five and a half times more likely to have force used on them than white people, and the use of Tasers has been rising. The watchdog claims to have been concerned with this issue for years, and the death of George Floyd and resulting Black Lives Matter protests in the UK had highlighted it further.
The report calls for an evidence based national debate on the much-debated effectiveness of the use of stop and search on people suspected of possessing drugs and that while racial disparities do not necessarily mean police are racist or misusing their powers, forces should be able to explain the figures. “Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers. Disproportionality persists and no force can satisfactorily explain why.”
HM Inspector of Constabulary, Wendy Williams said the unfair use of police powers made people less willing to give cooperation.“Police forces must analyse their data and either explain, with evidence, the reasons for disproportionality, or take clear action to address it. The police must be able to show the public that their use of these powers is fair, lawful and appropriate, or they risk losing the trust of the communities they serve.”
The report made eight recommendations, including the recording of all stop and search encounters on body-worn cameras, improved data collection practices, regular reviews of the power and greater external scrutiny.
Read more here. Read the report here.