Stop and search unfairly' targets ethnic minorities, damning report finds

20 April 2022, 12:49 | Updated: 20 April 2022, 14:52

An IOPC review found black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people
An IOPC review found black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

The use of stop and search powers in England and Wales must be overhauled and the disproportionate impact on ethnic minority groups addressed, a watchdog has said.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) review found, in the year to March 2021, black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

Asian people were two-and-a-half times more likely.

The report included one case study of a black boy who was searched more than 60 times between the ages of 14 and 16, sometimes more than once in the same day.

READ MORE: Boris 'orders Tories to block new Partygate probe' as he defies calls to quit

READ MORE: Workers who stayed behind at Ukraine zoo to help animals 'shot dead by Russians'

IOPC lead on discrimination Sal Naseem called on police chief to "break the cycle".

"It cannot be underestimated how traumatic a stop and search encounter can be on an individual," he said.

"If carried out insensitively, a person can be left feeling humiliated and victimised."

The IOPC said force, in particular handcuffs, must not be used as standard during searches.

It highlighted an example where a 12-year-old boy with a plaster cast on one arm was handcuffed while out running an errand for his mother.

The child was restrained within 20 seconds of the officer leaving his patrol car.

Racism in the police 'a real problem' says Shabnam Chaudhri

Mr Naseem added that these incidents can be the "first interaction" some young people have with police and "if it is a negative one, this can have a lasting impact on that person and the trust they put in the police".

The IOPC also called on police chiefs to "reduce their officers' reliance on the smell of cannabis alone" when deciding whether to carry out a search.

It said the Home Office should review what are considered reasonable grounds for suspicion for cannabis possession, and whether any changes are needed to police powers.

Current guidelines say it is not good practice for an officer to rely on one factor alone when deciding whether to search someone, particularly if it is difficult to attribute to one person.

The IOPC said: "In some of our investigations, the smell of cannabis has either formed the sole grounds given for a stop and search, or it has been the main reason for suspicion alongside either weak, non-specific concerns about behaviour, or vague intelligence relating to geographical location.

"These examples reinforce an often-held perception that the smell of cannabis is being used as an excuse to conduct a stop and search, especially when no cannabis is then found on the individual."

Nick Ferrari absolutely repulsed by Met Police's child strip search

Its recommendations included:

  • The National Police Chiefs' Council and the College of Policing draw up new guidelines to stop people from ethnic minorities being searched or subject to use of force "because of decision-making based upon assumptions, stereotypes and racial bias"
  • That the two bodies and the Home Office commission research into trauma caused by the incorrect use of stop and search
  • The ethnicity and gender of people subject to traffic stops should be recorded to see if the powers are disproportionately used against certain groups
  • Officers' individual stop and search records should be regularly reviewed
  • Police chiefs should make sure their officers know they are obliged to challenge inappropriate behaviour by colleagues during stop and searches.

Police in England and Wales carried out 695,009 stop and searches in the year to March 2021, 77 per cent of which resulted in no further action.

Although forces often cite the powers as useful for taking weapons off the streets, 478,576 of the searches were for drugs, up 36 per cent on the previous year.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jeremy Clarkson has broken his silence after it emerged that he, James May and Richard Hammond were set to leave the Grand Tour

Jeremy Clarkson breaks silence with good news despite leaving Grand Tour alongside Richard Hammond and James May

Police clashed with Legia Warsaw fans on Thursday night

Police officer set on fire and three more hurt after Polish football fans unleash 'planned violence' at Aston Villa game

King Charles in Dubai

Charles to tell world leaders 'the Earth does not belong to us' at Cop28 as he 'prays for action on climate'

Israel Palestinians

Israel announces resumption of combat in Gaza Strip as truce with Hamas expires

Parts of the UK are set to see 5cm of snow on Friday

Brits to get 5cm of snow in wintry blast as temperatures plummet to -10C, after schools close

The IDF said fighting had resumed

Israel-Hamas restarts as truce deadline expires, after IDF intercepts missile fired from Gaza

Released prisoner

Israeli military confirms release of six more hostages in Gaza Strip

Rishi Sunak will call for an "era of action" on the climate

Sunak to call for 'era of action' on climate at Cop28 - despite watering down green measures at home

Omid Scobie has insisted he never sent out a book including two royals' names amid racism allegations

Dutch translator on Omid Scobie's Endgame insists she was sent manuscript with two royals' names in race row

Lloyds banking group is closing more branches in 2024.

Lloyds group to close 45 branches as Labour pledges to keep banks back on the high street - is your local affected?

Hall and Oates

Hall and Oates row: Judge extends pause on Oates’ sale of stake in business

Hamas has claimed Israel is refusing to take back the bodies of the Bibas family

Hamas releases propaganda video of father of 10-month-old Kfir Bibas saying Israel refuses to take his family's bodies

Police clashed with Legia Warsaw fans

Three officers injured as Polish football fans unleash 'planned and systematic violence' on police ahead of Villa game

William and Kate dazzled on the red carpet as they brushed off Scobie's claims

William and Kate all smiles on red carpet as royals brush aside storm around Omid Scobie's book Endgame

Opec sign

Saudi Arabia extends cut in oil it sends to world in bid to boost prices

An 18-month row over pay, job security and conditions has come to an end, for now

'Provoke us again and we will respond in kind': Mick Lynch issues new threat to government after pay deal halts strikes