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Equality Commission Criticise Police Stop and Search Record


5:57am 2nd December 2010

Thames Valley Police have failed to "adequately justify" why they are more likely to stop people from ethnic minorities.

That's according to The Equality and Human Rights Commission who have been looking at the force's stop and search records.

Niknam Hussain
chairs the Aylesbury Vale committee that looks at the way the police work with local communities, he says we shouldn't jump to conclusions.  The former Aylesbury Mayor says every quarter when the group meets they look at stop and search figures for the district and have the chance to ask the local area commander about them. Cllr Hussain believes that in the Vale ethnic minorities are not "disproportionately" stopped.

A spokesperson for The Equality and Human Rights Commission told Mix96 "the Commission wrote to Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary on Monday 29 November 2010, warning them of possible enforcement action regarding their disproportionate use of stop and search powers."

"This follows the publication earlier this year of the Commission's report, Stop and Think, which found that some police forces are using stop and search powers in a way that is disproportionate and possibly discriminatory."

"Thames Valley Police and Leicestershire Constabulary were among five police forces contacted by the Commission in May 2010, having demonstrated significant and persistent race differences in their use of stop and search.  The Commission requested detailed information from these forces on their use of stop and search."

"The three other police forces contacted were the Metropolitan Police, Dorset Police and the West Midlands Police."

"The Metropolitan Police and Dorset Police have since embarked on the National Police Improvement Agency's 'Next Steps' programme, designed to help overcome any potential discriminatory stop and search actions.  However, the Commission continues to have concerns over their use of stop and search and will monitor the situation. "

"The Commission will be seeking additional information from the West Midlands Police before deciding on what further steps are necessary."

"Leicestershire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police were identified for further enforcement action now because neither force was able to adequately justify and evidence the disproportionate use of their stop and search tactics."

"The Commission's comprehensive review of the use of stop and search powers across England and Wales over the past 10 years showed black people are still at least six times as likely to be stopped and searched compared to white people. Asians are around twice as likely to be stopped and searched compared to white people."

John Wadham, Legal Director at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said "stop and search needs to be used fairly.  The evidence is that it isn't and the Commission is acting to try to change this."

In response a spokesperson for Thames Valley Police told Mix96 "on 29 November 2010 Thames Valley Police received correspondence from the Equality and Human Rights Commission raising issues around disproportionality in the use of stop and search powers by the Force."

"Thames Valley Police takes this matter very seriously as we are aware of the impact that stop and search can have on diverse communities."

"The (commission) has invited Thames Valley Police to enter into an agreement to ensure steps are taken to avoid a reoccurrence in the future, and has requested that specific actions be undertaken or ceased. The Force intends to engage fully with the EHRC in taking this matter forward."

"In today's letter, the Commission commented that there is an evident wish within Thames Valley Police to address these issues. Thames Valley Police can confirm this to be the case."

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