Wandsworth Police Top London Table For Disproportionate Use Of Stop & Search

Equality watchdog report shows most police forces in England and Wales still unfairly target black and Asian people in their use of stop and search powers

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The Equality & Human Rights Commission is to write to the police forces with the most disproportionate use of stop and search tactics to raise its concerns over possible breaches of the Race Relations Act.

The Commission has recently published a comprehensive review into the use of stop and search across England and Wales, which concludes that a number of forces are using the tactics in a way that is disproportionate and possibly discriminatory.

The review into 42 policing areas during the past five years has found that few police forces have made improvements and most continue to use their stop and search powers disproportionately against black and Asian people. In fact, some police forces have actually increased their use of stop and search against ethnic minorities.

It estimated that black people in London borough of Wandsworth were more than nine times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched. The likelihood was more than six times higher in four other boroughs: Lambeth (7.3); Tower Hamlets (7.2); Hammersmith and Fulham (6.9) and Kensington and Chelsea (6.9) compared to a national average of less than 6 times.

Asian people are about twice as likely to be stopped and searched as white people. The evidence suggests racial stereotyping and discrimination are significant factors behind the higher rates of stops and searches for black and Asian people than white people. 

Commissioner Simon Woolley from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
'It is time that we saw real improvement in these statistics. It is not enough for the police simply to launch new initiatives if those initiatives don’t produce results. 

He  continued:
It is unrealistic and unhelpful to demand that policing should be perfect. However, police services should strive to work fairly and effectively while respecting basic human rights and discrimination law. Only then can they be said to be ‘good enough’.

" The Commission will be looking closely at this research and will be writing to police forces with the most concerning statistics to gain a better understanding of how they are meeting their obligations under the Race Relations Act. We cannot rule out taking legal action against some police forces.' 






February 1, 2010