Ipswich: Figures show black people are more likely to be stopped by police

BLACK people are nearly six times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in Ipswich than white people, figures revealed today.

The statistics, in a report to Suffolk Police Authority, show there were a total of 735 stop searches carried out in Ipswich in the 12 months from July 2011 to June 2012 – 118 more than the previous year.

However, in Ipswich, 87 of the 735 stop and searches – nearly 12 per cent – involved members of the black community, who make up just 2.2pc of the borough’s population.

It is a figure that Jane Basham, Labour candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner election in Suffolk, said is unacceptable and “damaging to the trust and confidence that all communities need to have in the police service”.

She added: “There needs to be much more effective supervision of officers on this matter and I know that with the 20 per cent cuts to the police service that they have stripped out around 40 sergeants and inspectors.

“I’m concerned that it’s going to get worse because there’s not going to be that level of supervision I know is essential.”

In Suffolk, 3,384 stop searches were carried out – 128 less than the previous year - and 137 of which involved the black community, a total of four per cent.

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Of all stop searches in Suffolk, 69pc resulted in no further action, eight per cent in advice being given and in eight per cent of cases arrests were made. In contrast, the proportion that resulted in arrest in black cases was 18 out of 137.

The main drivers for the 137 stop searches were reported as stolen property and drugs.

Tim Passmore, Conservative candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner election in Suffolk, said: “Stop and searches are a matter for the police and not one the police and crime commissioner would be directly involved with.

“I do think stop and searches need to be more evidence based and there needs to be greater transparency.

“People have got to have confidence in the police that it’s done in a fair, just and appropriate manner to people in all communities.”

Campaign group Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) has raised concerns about the number of black and minority ethnic people being stopped and searched.

Audrey Ludwig, ISCRE’s director of legal services, said: “ISCRE believes that the ineffective, costly and humiliating dragnet approach of disproportionately using stop and search powers against specific sections of our community is classic unintelligent policing.

“It achieves little but worsening relationships between those communities and the police and that is why we are working with Suffolk police and community members to ensure that this tool is only used appropriately and lawfully”.

A Suffolk police spokesman said the constabulary is committed to dealing fairly with all sections of the community and is determined to increase trust and confidence in policing.

He added: “Stop and Search is a positive policing tool that has an important role to play in detecting crime and making our communities safer places to live.

“In areas where there are higher overall proportions of crime operational demands can influence figures.

“The number of people from a BME background who are actually being stopped and searched in the town is relatively low, therefore any slight increase in the number of people being stopped and searched can have a significant impact.

“Nevertheless we take this matter very seriously and continue to work with ISCRE, the Stop and Search Improvement Partnership, and the Stop and Search Reference Group to ensure the Constabulary’s use of Stop and Search is fair and effective.”

n Are you concerned by the figures? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starnews@archant.co.uk