Hertfordshire police more likely to stop and search black and minority ethnic people

Black and minority ethnic people in Hertfordshire are more likely to be the subject of a police stop

Black and minority ethnic people in Hertfordshire are more likely to be the subject of a police stop and search. - Credit: Archant

Black and minority ethnic people in Hertfordshire are four times as likely to be the subject of a police stop and search, figures have shown.

Data released by Herts police shows that 6,595 stop and searches were carried out between August 2017 and July 2018, the most recent 12 months for which data is available.

In cases where the officers recorded the ethnicity of the suspect, 33 per cent were BME, although just 12 per cent of Hertfordshire’s population identifies as BME according to 2017 population estimates. No ethnicity data was recorded in five per cent of cases.

Police chiefs have denied that stop and search powers are racist, and insist that they are an essential tool in fighting violent crime.

Andy Cooke, chief constable of Merseyside Police, said: “This is about criminality not race. It’s about disruption and putting the fear back on criminals: that visible approach to stop-searching those individuals who are communities know are causing the most harm, damage or violence.

“Those people should regularly be getting stopped and searched on our streets.”

In nearly two-thirds of cases, suspects were searched on suspicion of drug possession, while 11 per cent of searches were people under suspicion of carrying offensive weapons such as knives, and just 18 searches were for firearms.

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A statement from Herts Police said: “Stop and Search remains a vital tool for police to reduce crime, catch criminals and keep people safe. The Constabulary works to be transparent and to comply with the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.

“The Police and Crime Commissioner of Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, has also set up a Stop and Search Panel with members of the public and community who meet monthly to scrutinise and challenge the Constabulary on our stops and even dip sample individual cases.

“New technology is allowing stop and search to be accurately recorded and data quality and recording must remain a focus. Body Worn Camera also allows officers to record the circumstances and challenges faced during a stop and search encounter and provides valuable footage to maintain confidence, capture evidence and address public complaints.”

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