News 26 February 2021

Watchdog Finds Police Still Can’t Explain Disproportionate Use Of Powers Against Minority Ethnic Groups

26 February 2021

Police are still unable to explain the disproportionate use of their powers against people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, a watchdog has found.

In a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), they said officers risk losing the trust of the communities they serve if they don’t give valid reasons for the gaps or change the way they operate.

“Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers,” the report reads.

“Disproportionality persists and no force can satisfactorily explain why.”

Citing data from 2019/2020, the report reveals ethnic minority people were four times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, with the figure almost nine times higher for Black people specifically.

Black people were also roughly 5.7 times more likely to have force used against them than white people.

The report called for an “evidence-based national debate” on the use of stop and search against people suspected of possessing drugs, after it was found the most common reason for implementing the power was suspected drug possession “rather than supply” – indicated that “efforts are not being effectively focused on force priorities”.

Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said: “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 National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said it is developing plans to address the disproportionality regarding stop and search and to “explain it and take action to reduce it wherever possible”.