Stop and search: actual statistics


by Sunny
19th March, 2007 at 3:54 am    

I was recently forwarded a document which may or may not have been confidential, prepared by the Met Police. It has some stats on stop and search which I thought I’d share, since they seem to demonstrate that the actual stats are not as bad as many make them out to be.

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Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 empowers a Metropolitan Police Service officer of at least the rank of Commander to authorise, provided the person giving the authorisation considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism, that, within a specified area or place which is the whole or part of the Metropolitan Police District, and for a maximum period of 28 days per authorisation, any police constable in uniform can stop and search a vehicle (including driver, passengers and contents) or a pedestrian (and anything carried by that pedestrian) for the purpose of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism, whether or not the constable has grounds for suspecting the presence of articles of that kind.

A constable may seize and retain an article which he or she discovers in the course of such a search which he or she reasonably suspects is intended to be used in connection with terrorism. The officer giving the authorisation must inform the Home Secretary as soon as is reasonably practical. The same power is available to other police forces, including the City of London Police and the British Transport Police.

Code A of the accompanying Codes of Practice reads as follows: ‘The selection of persons stopped under Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 should reflect an objective assessment of the threat posed by the various terrorist groups active in Great Britain. The powers must not be used to stop and search for reasons unconnected with terrorism.

Officers must take particular care not to discriminate against members of ethnic minority groups in the exercise of these powers. There may be circumstances, however, where it is appropriate for officers to take account of a person’s ethnic origin in selecting persons to be stopped in response to a specific terrorist threat (for example, some international terrorist groups are associated with particular ethnic identities)’.

The following statistics relate to police use of anti-terrorism stop and search powers in London (which is the area in the country where these stop and search powers are used most):

LONDON ASIAN POPULATION = 12%
LONDON BLACK POPULATION = 11%
LONDON BLACK AND MINORITY ETHNIC POPULATION = 42%

[Sources: Data Management and Analysis Group, Greater London Authority, December 2006, and, Experimental Mid-Year Estimates 2004, Office of National Statistics, 2006, State of Equality in London Report, Greater London Authority, January 2007]

METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE (October 2005 – September 2006)
• 22,672 Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 stops conducted (accounting for 8% of all stops)
• These resulted in 27 arrests for terrorism-related offences and 242 arrests for other offences
• The self-defined ethnicity of those stopped was:
– White – 52%
– Asian – 16%
– Black – 9%
– Mixed – 3%
– Any other group – 4%
– Not stated – 16%

[Source: Performance Directorate, Metropolitan Police Service, December 2006]

METROPOLITAN POLICE SERVICE (October 2005 – September 2006)
• 114 Section 43 Terrorism Act 2000 stops conducted (this power requires reasonable suspicion)
• These resulted in 13 arrests, none of which were for terrorism-related offences

[Source: Performance Directorate, Metropolitan Police Service, December 2006]

CITY OF LONDON POLICE (7 July 2005 – 10 January 2007)
o 8,216 Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 stops conducted
o The self-defined ethnicity of those stopped was:
– White – 56%
– Asian – 17%
– Black – 9%
– Mixed – 2%
– Any other group – 2%
– Not stated – 14%

[Source: Counter Terrorism Section, City of London Police, January 2007]

BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE (January 2006 – December 2006)
o 20,255 Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 stops conducted
o The self-defined ethnicity of those stopped was:
o LONDON SOUTH:
– White – 42%
– Asian – 21%
– Black – 10%
– Mixed – 4%
– Any other group – 2%
– Not stated – 21%
o LONDON NORTH:
– White – 51%
– Asian – 16%
– Black – 7%
– Mixed – 3%
– Any other group – 3%
– Not stated – 20%
o LONDON UNDERGROUND:
– White – 50%
– Asian – 18%
– Black – 6%
– Mixed – 3%
– Any other group – 3%
– Not stated – 20%

[Source: Operations Department, Force Headquarters, British Transport Police, January 2007]

These figures demonstrate limited disproportionality in terms of the ethnicity of those stopped: Asians are slightly over-represented and black people are slightly under-represented. This disproportionality is slightly more marked in British Transport Police’s figures. The over-representation of Asians stopped under Section 44 Terrorism Act 2000 is nonetheless less pronounced than that of Blacks stopped under Section 1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

The figures also reveal significant levels of the stopped person’s self-defined ethnicity recorded as ‘not stated’, potentially masking further disproportionality. In these cases, the officer is required to record the ethnicity of the person stopped as the officer perceives it.
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19 Comments below   |  

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  1. El Cid — on 19th March, 2007 at 8:49 am  

    looks like there’s something in there for everyone

  2. Gump — on 19th March, 2007 at 9:51 am  

    “The figures also reveal significant levels of the stopped person’s self-defined ethnicity recorded as ‘not stated’, potentially masking further disproportionality. In these cases, the officer is required to record the ethnicity of the person stopped as the officer perceives it.”

    Well surely those will be the most important figures. They could swing things either way. Those pereceived figures need to be added to the percentages in order to determine whether or not there is any dsproportionality.
    No comment can be made as the correct figures remain unknown.

  3. Sahil — on 19th March, 2007 at 9:59 am  

    Those figures are quite surprising. Quite impressed with the police really, unless the majority of those people who did not state their ethnicity are from minorities. I wonder why the police would not make these figures more publically available, as this could really help diffuse issues about trust between the police and minorities.

  4. fugstar — on 19th March, 2007 at 2:26 pm  

    neur nernernerner you can’t get me!

  5. Amir — on 19th March, 2007 at 3:21 pm  

    Sahil,

    “I wonder why the police would not make these figures more publically available, as this could really help diffuse issues about trust between the police and minorities.”

    This is precisely what I hate about multicultural policing. Backed up by a new elite of wishy-washy chief constables, often with wishy-washy degrees in the Arts or social sciences, Britain’s police force no longer pines to enforce what’s right and what’s wrong. Instead it seeks to act as a kind of “referee” between offender and victim, imposing a politically correct law that tries to explain and understand people’s prejudices rather than trying to deter and punish wickedness. Many poor people, who used to be protected by oldfashioned policing but who are now largely abandoned by the new methods, are the real victims of multicultural policing.

    Racial profiling is eminently defensible. Everyone knows, whether he cares to admit it or not, that religious nihilism is more likely to materialize in the Moslem community. Unless MI5 are aware of an emerging terrorist threat from Chechen/Albanian/Kosovan ex-pats, I can’t see any reason why Asian-looking males should be treated with less suspicion than their white counterparts. (Hundal implicitly supported this notion in one of PP’s most interesting blog entries.)

    The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the preposterous levels of violent crime committed by black youths. And yet, the official view seems to be that if the law is imposed on black Britons, they are likely to explode into fits of sporadic violence. Worse, it assumes they will not co-operate with the law in a normal or polite manner, even when it is in their own interests, and so must be treated with kids’ gloves. This is a message of despair for the many black Britons who are victims of crime – at the hands of sociopathic thugs and drug-pedalling gangsters – and who would be only too delighted to see some “heavy-handed” policing in their home areas.

    But of course, I don’t expect those lentil-sipping, cappuccino-drinking Guardian columnists to care about real people and the deleterious effects of crime on their society.

    Amir

  6. Jagdeep — on 19th March, 2007 at 3:41 pm  

    I can’t see any reason why Asian-looking males should be treated with less suspicion than their white counterparts.

    In what circumstances, Amir? When walking down the road eating an ice-cream? If profiling has a place in policing it has to be intelligence led, not indiscriminate. Also, given that of the eight suicide bombers that took part in the 7/7 and 21/7 attacks, five of them were black (African and Jamaican), the truth is that the racial profile of the old 72 Virgin Seekers is wide (and it probably won’t be long before white converts are used)

  7. El Cid — on 19th March, 2007 at 3:49 pm  

    lentil-sipping?
    so just how runny is your dhal?

  8. Amir — on 19th March, 2007 at 3:55 pm  

    Jagdeep,

    “In what circumstances, Amir? When walking down the road eating an ice-cream?”

    To forestall any possible misunderstanding: I vehemently oppose what Bush and Blair euphemistically refer to as the “War on terror,” and so I oppose the excesses of anti-terror legislation as well as the pointless scaremongering of Stalinists like John Reid. However, in saying this also, I think it is in the public’s best interest that the police adopt some reasonable level of racially-profiled stop-and-searches on planes and on the London underground.

    You make a valid point about the radicalisation of black Britons, however.

  9. Jagdeep — on 19th March, 2007 at 4:08 pm  

    Amir, the police randomly picking up ‘dodgy looking Asian men’ or ‘shifty looking black men’ in order to assuage the general British publics feeling that nothing is being done viscerally to tackle these problems is just as much shameless pandering to the mob as you accuse the police of doing now in terms of pandering to the ‘politically correct brigade’ (copyright Daily Mail) in the current atmosphere of ‘political correctness gone mad’ (copyright Daily Express)

    The police should do what they do solely for valid operational purposes. Intelligence led racial profiling may be appropriate in certain circumstances. As a generalised policy it is wrong and laregly ineffective.

  10. Sid Love — on 19th March, 2007 at 4:38 pm  

    I like my roald dhal sour (with semi-ripe mangoes) thick, quirky and offensive with lots of coriander. Puts lead in your pencil and more than be coped by by snotty-nosed supremacists.

  11. El Cid — on 19th March, 2007 at 5:43 pm  

    puts lead in your pencil? you sure???
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahhahhahahhahahaha
    *struggles to re-attach head after fit of laughter*
    actually, I like my lentils — or should that be manly green LENTEJAS — cooked with a couple of onions, a few cloves of garlic, some paprika, green pepper, thick slices of cooking chorizo, olive oil, bay leaves, and a few slabs of salted cooking jamon. Served piping hot, with some crusty bread and a generous dollop of red wine vinegar (or L&Ps) to finish.
    Mighty food. Puts hair on the chest. Grrrrrrrr!

  12. El Cid — on 19th March, 2007 at 5:48 pm  

    so what colour is Arab? or Balkan? or Transcaucasian? Or even Brazilian? Just curious.

    Radicalisation of Black Britons? I think Jagdeep’s point was unintentionally misleading — 1st generation Somalian is miles away from being 2nd/3rd gen Jamaican or Ghanaian.

  13. Jagdeep — on 19th March, 2007 at 5:55 pm  

    I wasnt really making a point about the radicalisation of Black Britons, the point I was making was that British suicide bombers have come from a variety of racial backgrounds.

  14. Jagdeep — on 19th March, 2007 at 5:57 pm  

    so what colour is Arab? or Balkan? or Transcaucasian? Or even Brazilian? Just curious.

    Remember the Brazilian guy who was shot on the Underground. I remember watching BBC News 24 in the immediate aftermath and they interviewed witnesses who had seen him running and seen him being shot, and they all described him as Asian.

  15. Kulvinder — on 20th March, 2007 at 12:59 am  

    I think it is in the public’s best interest that the police adopt some reasonable level of racially-profiled stop-and-searches on planes and on the London underground.

    Unless you qualify what you mean by ‘reasonable’ thats a pretty worthless statement.

  16. Police Sergeant Raj Joshi — on 21st March, 2007 at 4:57 pm  

    I think some of the issues in stop and search relate to stops, and also perceptions of Black/Asian people when they are stopped. Quite illogically the issue of stops and searches is taken in isolation of the cumulative impact of marginalastion.

    My personal view on statistics is you can show them to mean what you wish and the service is particularly good at this. What it lacks is getting behind issues of marginalisation.

    When we talk of intelligence led policing we need to understand it too can fail as it did in the tragic case of Jean Charles de Menezes. Also, is there any mention of stops resulting in arrests?

    I do have to laugh when someone here mentioned Chief Constables with wishy-washy degrees because this is absolutely true. Allegedly the system and some Senior officers bully Black/Asian staff that challenge racial injustice, this is where the wishy washy degrees come in handy I guess. We have a new Liberal leader in policing, a type that masks the true rate of anti racism inside policing. On the one hann they say we are achieveing in race equality and on the other they have a baseball bat to hit those that challenge. Mahatma Gandhi would have referred to such leaders as false leaders. Wishy washy, really!

  17. Police Sergeant Raj Joshi — on 21st March, 2007 at 4:58 pm  

    I think some of the issues in stop and search relate to stops, and also perceptions of Black/Asian people when they are stopped. Quite illogically the issue of stops and searches is taken in isolation of the cumulative impact of marginalastion.

    My personal view on statistics is you can show them to mean what you wish and the service is particularly good at this. What it lacks is getting behind issues of marginalisation.

    When we talk of intelligence led policing we need to understand it too can fail as it did in the tragic case of Jean Charles de Menezes. Also, is there any mention of stops resulting in arrests?

    I do have to laugh when someone here mentioned Chief Constables with wishy-washy degrees because this is absolutely true. Allegedly the system and some Senior officers bully Black/Asian staff that challenge racial injustice, this is where the wishy washy degrees come in handy I guess. We have a new Liberal leader in policing, a type that masks the true rate of anti racism inside policing. On the one hand they say we are achieveing in race equality and on the other they have a baseball bat to hit those that challenge. Mahatma Gandhi would have referred to such leaders as false leaders. Wishy washy, really!

  18. Arun Kundnani — on 22nd March, 2007 at 11:03 am  

    One thing to bear in mind with these statistics is that the category ‘Asian’ covers a very wide range of communities in London. There is likely to be a huge difference between the number of times middle-class Asian communities in Harrow, for example, are targeted whereas a working-class Asian community living in Tower Hamlets may be subjected to a high frequency of stops and searches every time they leave their home – that’s certainly what people who live there will tell you. In the numbers given for Asians stopped, these two extremes would cancel each other out (the same might be true for other ethnic categories of course).

    On the question of whether these powers are legitimate, police forces themselves know that their use of anti-terrorist stop and search powers cannot be justified in terms of the convictions achieved. It is through in-depth extended investigations and intelligence work that terrorist plots have been intercepted, not random stops and searches on the basis of ethnicity. However, the police nowadays give the argument that the powers are justified because terrorists planning attacks may be deterred if they see police officers carrying out stops and searches. Even an establishment figure like Lord Carlile, who was appointed as an independent reviewer of the operation of anti-terrorist legislation, found this unconvincing: ‘There is little or no evidence that the use of section 44 has the potential to prevent an act of terrorism as compared with other statutory powers of stop and search.’ Given this lack of evidence, why are these powers in place? Perhaps the reason is to provide a sense of reassurance to the public, a feeling that tough action is being taken. If so, those communities considered to be ‘suspect’ are paying a substantial ‘ethnic penalty’ in order to provide the wider public with the confidence that something is being done.

    It is little wonder that this, in turn, has encouraged members of the public to engage in their own private vigilante ‘profiling’ – deciding, for example, that Asian passengers on flights are suspect. The experience of disproportionate stop and search of African-Caribbean communities (the criminalisation over many decades of generations of young men) should be a lesson to us on what happens when ethnic profiling is allowed to take place.

  19. Twining or Black in Blue — on 23rd March, 2007 at 9:44 am  

    Arun, are you from the IRR? If there is a disparity in Tower Hamlets and there probably is then it is the make up or demographics of a particular area that identify potential police discrimination in these areas and abuse of power. Police leaders know that they need to go into detail, but simply will not. This is something that the service will not touch. If you are also saying that section 44 serves no real effective policing purpose other than reassurance then the impact on the marginalised community is quite severe.

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