Concern over stop and search quelled

CONCERN among police over the issue of stopping and searching ethnic minorities more than white people has been quelled following an investigation.Police authority bosses asked for more details in June, after statistics revealed that the ratio of stop searches between white and minority ethnic populations had increased from 1:1.

By Tracey Sparling

crime reporter

tracey.sparling@eveningstar.co.uk

CONCERN among police over the issue of stopping and searching ethnic minorities has been quelled following an investigation.

Police authority bosses asked for more details in June, after statistics revealed that the ratio of stop searches between white and ethnic minority populations had increased from 1:1.6 to 1:1.8.

That meant black and ethnic people in Suffolk were 1.8 times more likely to be stopped than white people – and is nowhere near the target the force has set itself of 1:1.

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But it has now emerged that Suffolk actually ranks as one of the fairest forces of its type, with neighbouring Norfolk Police stopping and searching a ratio of 1:5.9.

During 2001/02 there were 3,234 white people stopped and searched across Suffolk, and 130 from black or ethnic minority backgrounds – of which 25 were arrested which was said to be equitable with the rate for white people.

Nearly one in ten of all stop searches happened in the same 20 locations.

The top three hotspots were Haverhill, Leiston and Santon Downham just over the border in Norfolk where car crime is so prevalent that Suffolk officers from Brandon help out.

Acting deputy chief constable Colin Langham-Fitt, chairman of the authority's community and race relations steering group, said: "Although we have not hit 1:1, we do have the lowest ratio in our family (group of similar forces)."

He said it was "always difficult" to achieve 1:1 in forces with a small ethnic population, when small numbers easily influenced the statistics.

He said: "The difference between 1.6:1 and 1.8:1 could be one search.

"Three to four per cent of searches were on people from ethnic minorities, and that is not unrealistic when compared with the community population."

Suffolk Police Authority member Gulsham Kayembe, said: "To set any target other than 1:1 is to presuppose a higher rate of crime among among ethnic minorities."

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