Police searches: shock figures

BLACK people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in Suffolk than white people, new figures reveal.Officers stopped the equivalent 20 black people out of every 1,000 to carry out searches during the last 12 months compared to just three out of every 1,000 white people.

By Danielle Nuttall

BLACK people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in Suffolk than white people, new figures reveal.

Officers stopped the equivalent 20 black people out of every 1,000 to carry out searches during the last 12 months compared to just three out of every 1,000 white people.

The figures is revealed in a performance report which is set to be discussed by Suffolk Police Authority on Friday.


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The report shows both people of mixed race and Asian people are three times more likely to be stopped and searched by officers in Suffolk than white people - 9.5 people in every 1,000.

Chief Inspector Martin Ransome, of Suffolk Constabulary's community safety unit, said: “Stop and search can help the police detect crime and make our communities safer places to live.

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“Suffolk Constabulary is committed to dealing fairly with all sections of the community and is determined to further increase trust and confidence in policing.

“In 2005/06 in Suffolk, 212 people of minority ethnic backgrounds were stopped and searched. In comparison, 1,911 white people were stopped and searched.

“The number of people living in Suffolk who are from a minority ethnic background is very small when compared to the population as a whole and as a consequence the comparative figures are easily distorted when viewed in isolation.

“The constabulary has comprehensive equality assurance procedures in place to ensure that all encounters are carried out in accordance with relevant codes of practice and only when officers have appropriate grounds.”

The 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act introduced new rules for stop and search. Officers are required to have reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed before they can carry out the check.

Performance data shows only one in ten stop searches of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in Suffolk led to an arrest last year. The figure is only marginally higher for white people.

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection, said: “The police authority takes race relations terribly seriously. We are very anxious to check there is no discrimination.

“We do have an equal opportunities committee that monitors the figures and the files are open for inspection. We monitor complaints against the police in terms of ethnicity. Every effort is made on behalf of the police authority to ensure that the constabulary is scrupulously fair. The increase in this ratio does warrant further investigation.”

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