Why are St Albans police carrying out more stop and searches of local black men?

A disproportionate amount of black men are stopped and searched in St Albans.

Of 609 stop-searches carried out within the St Albans district between April to October 2021, 52 involved men who were black or from ethnic minority groups, which when compared to local population data meant black males were 9.6 times more likely to be stopped and searched in that time period. - Credit: Archant

A disproportionate amount of black men are stopped and searched by police in the St Albans district.

That's the shocking finding of a new in-depth report scrutinising local officers' use of stop and search powers.

Of 609 stop-searches carried out within the district between April to October 2021, 52 involved men who were black or from ethnic minority groups, which when compared to local population data meant black males were 9.6 times more likely to be stopped and searched in that time period.

St Albans Neighbourhood Inspector Andy Wiseman explained: “Stop and search is an important tool for police officers to confirm or allay suspicions that someone may be involved in a crime without using the power of arrest. We remain committed to ensuring stop and search powers are used lawfully and proportionately and only where there are reasonable grounds to do so.

“We have been particularly keen to understand why there is disproportionality amongst black men being stopped and searched in the St Albans district. Crucially, the review hasn’t identified any indication of powers being used in a discriminatory way. The majority of searches were prompted by members of the public reporting suspicious activity to us.”

He added: “We have worked for many years to build strong relationships with black and other minority groups to help build trust among all communities that they will be treated fairly and without discrimination.”

Insp Wiseman and his team have been working with the local Faith & Culture Enterprise (F.A.C.E.) Group and earlier this year, held a live question and answer event, in partnership with Oaklands College, where members of the public could call in and put questions to a panel of police officers. Billed as an opportunity to ‘stop and ask searching questions of the police’, the F.A.C.E. THE FUTURE event highlighted a number of key issues surrounding stop and search in St Albans.

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The report, available on Herts Constabulary website, provides an in-depth look at all of these searches, the reasons for them, the geographical locations, operational challenges at the time and the outcome rates.

Are you a black man who has been stopped and searched by St Albans police on numerous occasions without apparent reason? Email hertsad@archant.co.uk in confidence and share your story.