Stop and search

Hampshire police is one of several forces to be threatened with legal action today as the Government's equality watchdog said black and Asian Britons were still being unfairly targeted for stop and searches.

A review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found in London, almost 20% of black people were stopped and searched between 2007 and 2008, the figures showed.

Commission chiefs wrote to forces warning they could potentially be sued over possible breaches of the Race Relations Act.

Several police forces increased their use of stop and search against ethnic minorities, with black people being stopped and searched at least six times the rate of white people, the commission said.

Asian people are about twice as likely to be stopped and searched as white people. London had by far the highest rates of stops and searches with 183 searched for every 1,000 black people.

Hampshire (68.9), Dorset (58.1), Leicestershire (96.7), South Yorkshire (65.2), Northamptonshire (81.1) and Greater Manchester (68.9) were also among the highest.

Among the areas with the most disproportionate use of stop and search powers between black and white people were Dorset, the West Midlands, Hampshire and Nottinghamshire.

The Commission's Stop and Think report used data from the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Office for National Statistics, to analyse trends in stop and search use around the country.

Hampshire police sent Heart a statement in response to the findings:

Hampshire Constabulary’s Chief Constable Alex Marshall says: “We are currently reviewing the data in the Stop and Think report issued today from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

“Stop and search powers remain an important tactic in preventing and detecting crime across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. My officers will strive to ensure that these stop checks are based on intelligence and are done intelligently. A high number of these searches relate to drug and weapon offences.

“We have recently secured funding from the Local Criminal Justice Board to research and analyse how the stop and search powers are currently being used across the force and this work will begin shortly.

“Our aim is to promote equality and respect for all communities within Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and we will now respond positively to the data published in the Stop and Think report.

“We will work with the police authority and local communities to ensure that these powers are used wisely and appropriately.”