Between April 2018 and March 2019, there were 375,588 stop and searches in England and Wales (excluding vehicle searches) up from 277,378 in the previous 12 months according to statistics published by the Home Office.
The rise follows a downward trend with the equivalent of 7 stop and searches for every 1,000 people compared to 25 per 1,000 people between April 2009 and March 2010.
However, these figures mask a definite unevenness of stop and searches across ethnic groups across the country.
During this period there were 4 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 38 for every 1,000 Black people. It was 11 per 1,000 for Asian people and also 11 per 1,000 people with Mixed ethnicity.
When compared to the rest of the population, Black people are 8 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. However, when the comparison is made with just White people in the population, then Black people are nearly 10 times more likely to be stopped and searched.
Almost half of all stop and searches took place in the Metropolitan Police force area in London – which has the highest concentration of Black people in the country – with 11 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 51 for every 1,000 Black people.
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and similar laws, police officers are required to have ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’. The powers which allow police officers to stop and search people even if they don’t have suspicions about them was granted under section 60 (S60) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
Police have already been accused of exercising their powers, not based on intelligence or reasonable suspicion, but on stereotypical assumptions, which does not help to make society any safer.