Black people nearly four times as likely to be stopped and searched in London

Black people are nearly four times as likely to be stopped and searched by the Met Police than white people in the area, new figures show.

By Will Grimond, Data Reporter

Four police officers walk away from the camera
Four Police Officers in London. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Figures come as human rights organisation Liberty calls on the Government to tackle the “appalling injustice” of increased stop and search rates for people of colour.

Stop and search is a controversial practice, in which police temporarily stop individuals they suspect may be carrying weapons, drugs or other contraband.

While there are rules that govern how searches are carried out, several organisations have said they want the practice banned or heavily rolled back, in part because it is used far more often on people of colour, particularly black and black British communities.

The latest Home Office figures shows that of 212,107 searches carried out by the Met Police in the year to March, 72,542 were of black people – equivalent to 66.6 for every 1,000 black people in the area, according to the latest population data.

By comparison, there were 83,145 searches of white people – or 17 for every 1,000 people.

This means that black people were 3.9 times as likely to be stopped and searched.

Emmanuelle Andrews, Policy and Campaigns Manager at Liberty, a human rights charity, said: “Stop and search is a traumatic and distressing experience, leaving a lasting impact on both individuals and communities.

“Not only this, but stop and search is an ineffective policing tool – with these figures showing that the vast majority of stops result in no further action,” she added.

Black people were more likely to be arrested after a stop and search in London, with 13.7% of searches leading to an arrest, compared to 13.3% for white people.

The disparity in stop and searches in London has stayed largely the same as the year before.

Across England and Wales, this disparity has improved slightly, with black people now 6.2 times as likely to be stopped as white people, down from seven last year.

Liberty said they were particularly concerned by the Government’s proposed Public Order Bill, which is set to expand police stop and search powers.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council, a representative body for British police offers, called the practice a “valuable policing tool”, but said there was more work to do to address concerns around ethnic disparities.

Amanda Pearson, the organisation’s lead for stop and search, said: “We know that the use of stop and search can have a significant impact on individuals and communities, and particularly on young people.”

“We encourage anyone who feels unhappy at how a search was conducted to contact their local force.”

Nationally the number of stop and searches declined 26% last year, from 714,914 in the year to March 2021 to 530,365 this year – with the Home Office saying a high level of “proactive policing” during the pandemic was the lead reason for the decline.

The overall number of searches also fell 33% in London, down from 316,747 last year.

The Home Office said it is committed to improving safeguards on stop and search, such as creating channels for it to be scrutinised by local communities, and increasing the use of body worn cameras.

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