Campaigners warn stop and search still targets innocent black people in Suffolk

ISCRE business manageer Phanuel Mutumburi, legal services director Audrey Ludwig and chair of the bo

ISCRE business manageer Phanuel Mutumburi, legal services director Audrey Ludwig and chair of the board, Chris Cumberbatch Picture: PAUL NIXON - Credit: Archant

Racial equality campaigners have welcomed a reduction in stop and search in Suffolk – but warned too many innocent black people were still being targeted.

Suffolk Constabulary’s stop and search statistics show that while “disproportionality” has decreased, black and ethnic minority people were still nearly four times as likely to be stopped than those who were white.

Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) and the Suffolk Law Centre (SLC) have analysed the figures and, despite some concerns, said “it was going in the right direction”.

Audrey Ludwig, who is director of legal services at SLC, said: “The reduction in overall stop and search is to be welcomed. We believe the work we do with the Stop and Search Reference Group, and the additional training police officers have had, as a result of its recommendations, has helped result in fewer stop and searches.”

However, Mrs Ludwig added: “We remained concerned by the rate of disproportionality, which saw black and ethnic minority people 3.9 times more likely to be stopped than white people. In particular, we note that the number of people for whom no further action was taken was significantly higher for black people than white people, while the number of those found with objects was lower.

“It means there are proportionately more innocent black people being stopped in Suffolk.”

Mrs Ludwig, who has been looking at the figures with Phanuel Mutumburi, ISCRE’s business and operations director, said she also had some queries about the choice and accuracy of some of statistics, which she would be raising with police.

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Discussing the figures at Suffolk police and crime commissioner’s latest accountability and performance panel, assistant chief constable Rachel Kearton said that while disporportionality was a concern, there had been a downward trend in recent years.

The police report noted that when restricted to people from Suffolk, to remove the effect of targeted searches on London drug gang suspects, disproportionality rates fell to 2.2.

Police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore said stop and search was a “useful tool” and Suffolk’s track record with its usage was “second to none”.

The next Community Stop and Search Group meeting is on July 25 at 6pm at ISCRE’s offices.

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