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Stop and search reforms have led to racial profiling, says NBPA


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Relaxation of the stop and search rules has led to an increase in targeting BAME people, the National Black Police Association has claimed.

Concerned: Tola Munro of the NBPA

Concerned: Tola Munro of the NBPA

Date - 1st November 2019
By - Chris Smith


The NBPA has said the proportionate use of Section 60 laws can work to reduce knife crime but warned changes made by ministers had resulted in a “knee jerk reaction” that “alienates those very communities that are most affected”.

The warning followed publication of Home Office data that revealed the pilot schemes making use of wider powers of Section 60 Stop & Search (Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) had led to a higher proportion of Black and BAME people being stopped.

According to national figures, 2,501 searches were carried out by police officers in in 2017/18.

The Home Office analysis was: “Available data points towards a disparity in the use of s60s on individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, especially black men compared with white men. It is possible that this disparity is at least in part a result of discrimination/stereotyping on the part of officers and forces carrying out searches under s60.”

But forces say it is a crucial tool in the fight against knife crime and drug-related offences.

The NBPA’s President, Sergeant Tola Munro, said: “The seemingly unadulterated use of Section 60 alienates those very communities that are most affected by these violent crimes.  The inappropriate use of this power further erodes trust and reassurance within those communities who police forces need to engage with.”

The association said stop and search works better if the stops are carried out by community officers and pointed to the work of Merseyside Police as leading best practice on the tactic.

They say that officers who are well known to the local community can help ease tensions.

Their advice was backed up by a report published last week detailing how Merseyside Police were carrying out stop and searches as part of work to reduce knife crime.

The force area has a BAME population of 5.5%, and one of the highest rates of stops in the country. 

Chief Constable Andy Cooke has described stop and search as the “single greatest power that the police have”.

CC Cooke, who is the NPCC lead on organised crime, revealed his force carries out around 1,000 searches each month.

Data in the BPOA report into Merseyside revealed 6% were from BME communities and in 2016-17 the percentage of black people stopped and searched was 2.6%.

The report was in response to an invitation by CC Cooke for campaigners to see how his force was operating. The report found that there was wide acceptance from local people.

It said: “There seems to be a strong relationship between communities and Merseyside Police and this helps any perceived disproportionality felt by the communities in terms of any legislation.”

The BPOA added: “We believe that Merseyside is leading on this issue and would recommend other forces look holistically at all the work Merseyside are doing in this area as best practice.”

Their approach has been widely accepted because of the urgent need to protect young people from knife crime.

The BPOA said: “The community leads that the team spoke to were supportive of Merseyside Police and spoke in favour of stop search practices in the area.”

The two community officers were praised by local people for having indepth knowledge of the local communities they policed.

One of the team that went on the visit, Katrina Ffrench, Chief Executive of StopWatch, said the approach is not applied consistently.

She said: “In relation to community policing models, the visit was incredibly insightful. However, I would be keen to visit an area, which is not predominantly BAME and does not have a ‘Jamal’ as I believe what we saw was quite the exception and not the rule. 

"Are there any white working class neighbourhoods that could be added to the tour next time? Only it would be useful to have a real understanding of community and police relations.”

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