Figures prove harassment of young blacks Home Office confirms race bias in police

Discrimination: Code of practice changed as report shows blacks are five times more likely than whites to be stopped
Click to follow
The Independent Online
BLACK PEOPLE are five times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched and six times more likely to be sent to prison, according to a Home Office report issued yesterday.

The findings prompted the Home Office minister, Paul Boateng, to issue a revised code of practice on stop-and-search policies, which will oblige police forces to take greater action to monitor and combat discrimination.

The new report identified the Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Thames Valley forces as having the largest discrepancies between the treatment of black and white people. In these forces, black people were seven times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched or arrested.

Black people were most likely to be stopped and searched in the Metropolitan police area, where the practice is more widely used than in other areas. The Met stopped 181 per 1,000 of the black population, compared with 38 per 1,000 whites.

Mr Boateng said that new performance targets would be drawn up by the Home Office to measure police practice.

He said: "Ensuring the equal treatment of all those that come into contact with the criminal justice system is a key priority for the Government whoever you are, victim, witness, defendant or employee."

But Glen Smyth, of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said yesterday that stop-and-search "is a very effective tool for dealing with street robbers, drug dealers, terrorists and violent knife offenders.

"If you stop stop-and-search ... in an area, crime goes up, and it goes up against everyone - black, white, Asian, Afro-Caribbean, Somalian."

The Home Office report, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, found that 11 per cent of the million people stopped and searched by the police last year were black, despite the fact that black people make up only 2 per cent of the population.

Asians, who form 3 per cent of the general population were also over- represented, making up 5 per cent of those stopped.

Of the 2 million people arrested during the survey period, 7 per cent were black. In prisons, 12 per cent of male prisoners and 20 per cent of females were black.

Paul Cavadino, director of policy at the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders, said: "No one can seriously argue that black people are six times more likely to commit crime than white people.

"The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that black people who offend are more likely to end up in prison than comparable white offenders."

Homicide detection statistics also showed worrying ethnic variations. In 40 per cent of homicides where the victim was black, the police failed to find a suspect, compared with only 10 per cent of cases where the victim was white.