Race equality group slams police figures

A RACIAL equality spokeswoman has today labelled Suffolk police's stop search figures as “not acceptable”.

A RACIAL equality spokeswoman has today labelled Suffolk police's stop search figures as “not acceptable”.

Jane Basham, director of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), was speaking after it emerged black people were nearly eight times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people.

Yesterday's Evening Star had a story that officers stopped the equivalent of 26.2 black people out of every 1,000 to carry out searches in the 11 months up to February - compared to 3.4 out of every 1,000 white people.

The position has worsened since the end of April last year when black people were seven times more likely to be stopped by police in the county.

Police are also three times more likely to stop people of mixed race than they are white people and are twice as likely to stop those of an Asian background.

Ms Basham today said: “It is simply not acceptable, and I need to know more about what lies behind the data.

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“The police have a duty to explain to the public why they are more likely to be stopped if they are from a black and minority ethnic background.

“Yet again ISCRE finds out about the statistics from the newspaper rather than the police themselves.

“These statistics and subsequent headlines really damage our black and minority ethnic communities in many ways, particularly leaving them more vulnerable to negative racial stereotyping and exclusion.”

Ms Basham has been invited to attend a meeting of Suffolk Police Authority on Friday when the figures will be discussed.

She said: “I feel the way forward is for the police to establish an independent panel with ISCRE as a key player, in order to really analyse the data and work towards stopping this trend.”

Suffolk's acting Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt said: “We are committed to dealing fairly with all sections of the community in order to further increase trust and confidence in policing.”

What do you think of the figures? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk