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Equalities watchdog warns police of racist stop & search policies

Equalities watchdog warns police of racist stop & search policies

Categories: Latest News

Thursday March 11 2010

  The Guardian reports that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (chair, Trevor Phillips, pictured) is to brand police forces as ‘racist’ and threaten enforcement action for disproportionate use of stop and search against ethnic minorities.

‘Police forces will be told they face enforcement action unless they give meaningful promises to change, says a report for the Equality and Human Rights Commission expected to be released later this month.

‘It presents a prima facie case that the police are still failing in their duties under racial equality laws and finds that an officer’s power to stop and search, based on having a reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminality, is disproportionately used against Afro-Caribbean and Asian Britons.

‘For some forces the “disproportionality” is more than 10 times. The report presses the police to defend themselves against the allegation they are breaking the law by highlighting the fact that some forces use the power considerably more than other forces policing the same types of area.’

‘The force identified as the biggest offender and placed under the most pressure by the report is the Metropolitan police, found to be responsible for 120,000 “excessive” stops against those from ethnic minority backgrounds in 2008/9.

‘Broken down by race, in one year the Met stopped 195 per 1,000 Afro-Caribbean people, and 78 per 1,000 Asian people. The figure for white people is 49.

‘A draft of the report concludes: “The evidence points to racial discrimination being a significant reason why black and Asian people are more likely to be stop and searched than white people. It implies that stop and search powers are being used in a discriminatory and unlawful way.”

‘The report covers only stop and searches carried out when an officer has a reasonable suspicion of an individual’s involvement in criminality, which are covered by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

‘It does not cover stops where no reasonable suspicion is needed, such as under section 60 of the Public Order Act, where some studies have found ethnic minority people are targeted even more, nor does it cover stops under counter-terrorism powers, though notes concern about those.

‘Last week the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, said counter-terrorism stops should be ended because they barely make a dent against extremists but fuel resentment against the police.’


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