Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 July 2021

How police stop and search remains racially biased

Black British people are almost 11 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white British people.

By Nick Ferris

Boris Johnson triggered outcry this week after announcing a new crime reduction plan that includes the introduction of litter-picking “chain gangs”, and “alcohol tags” that can detect alcohol in the sweat of offenders. 

Also included is the proposed permanent relaxation of section 60 stop and search restrictions with the aim of fighting knife crime. These powers allow police to carry out searches 24 hours a day, and to do so when they believe an incident involving serious violence “may”, rather than “will”, occur. 

Black British people are almost 11 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white British people
Stop and search rate per 1,000 people, by ethnicity
Data is for the year up to March 2020

Data suggests that, if the plans are approved, ethnic minorities will be disproportionately affected. There were 563,837 stop and searches in England and Wales between April 2019 and March 2020, equivalent to 11 per 1,000 people.

But while there were just five searches per 1,000 white British people over that period, there were 54 for every 1,000 black British people – almost 11 times as many. 

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Stop and search has long been criticised for stoking community tensions while having little measurable impact on crime. The human rights organisation Liberty has said the proposed plans will “compound discrimination” in the UK, warning that the policy “marginalises minority communities, destroys their relationships with the police, and funnels young people into the criminal justice system”.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action