Black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people, Government figures have revealed. All ethnic minority groups remain disproportionately likely to be confronted by officers and the gap is widening, the Ministry of Justice said.
There were 1,142,763 stops and searches across England and Wales during the financial year ending April 2011, an increase of 10%. Of these, 15% were black, 9% Asian, 3% of mixed ethnicity and 1% from Chinese and other backgrounds. Researchers said the inequality of stop and search was fuelled by the fact almost half (42%) took place in London where 54% of black people live.
For every thousand people in the capital, 210 black people were stopped and searched, compared with 47 white people. Officials added that the proportion of stops and searches affecting people from ethnic groups had increased every year for the past five years. Police minister Nick Herbert said: “It is unacceptable that an individual might be targeted because of their race. Stop and search is an important tool for the police but it is essential powers are used fairly and with the support of the community to protect the public.
“The Government expects a policing service which promotes equality and does not discriminate against anyone because of their race.” The Ministry of Justice document, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, includes all kinds of stop and search. Researchers highlighted how 55,862 racist incidents were recorded by police in 2008/09, a fall of 4% on the previous year. They found fewer victims from black and mixed ethnic groups were satisfied with their contact with the criminal justice system.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Our use of stop and search is intelligence-led, carefully targeted and monitored both internally and externally. On every borough, the Met holds senior officers to account about the levels of stop and search and they are asked to justify the figures to a group of community members.”