Recent figures released by the police watchdog have revealed a racial disparity in stop and search statistics despite vows to reform police powers.
The Home Office’s Stop and Search statistics for 2015/2016 have highlighted that black people are 6 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. In 2014/2015, the Home Office report released with data concerning police powers and procedures in England and Wales showed a lower average. Black people in that year were stopped 4.2 times more than their white counterparts, according to StopWatch. The widening gap in the figures indicates that the police are disproportionally targeting black people.
In response, concerns have been raised over a continued ‘abuse of power’ despite promises of reform. However, analysts maintain that efforts were better between 2010 and 2015, suggesting that the Metropolitan police have improved strategies with aim of promoting fairness and equality.
However, this year, efforts have only improved in the stopping of white men, which has decreased by 38%. In contrast, an ‘overwhelming majority’ of those stopped were black men. The systemic targeting of black men has caused ‘important questions’ to be asked. These questions pertain to the issue of institutional racism and inequality.
his recent report came after its inspection in February found that 32 out of 43 forces failed to meet government rules aimed at stamping out abuses.
Thus, the Section 60 law has been further criticised as 76% of stops require no further action. The law which aims to bring ‘transparency and accountability’ has made it clear that reform of police power is yet to come. Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, commented: ‘…there are clear signs that some communities are being disproportionately targeted’.
Rather than being ‘intelligence-led’, stop and search appears to be ‘counterproductive’. There is no declining significance of race and ethnicity in the practise of stop and search.