Assistant Chief Constable, Paul Marshall, of Suffolk has been wringing his hands and attaching a few leeches to his heart. He is 'disappointed' that Ipswich, Suffolk only has a black and Asian population of 2% but 12% of the people searched by his, obviously racist, officers are black and Asian. He would really like to ban his racist officers from searching black and Asian people but that would cause even more of a stink in The Mail and definitely ruin his future career.
There have been many possible theories put forward regarding the disproportional number of Visible Ethnic Minorities (VEM's) being stopped and searched. For example, the resident population may not accurately reflect the numbers of VEM's on the streets of that area. VEM's may offend disproportionately to white offenders. Police officers are more likely to record stop and search of VEM's because there is more likely to be a complaint about the search.
There may be something in all of those theories but the liberal brigade will conclude that even allowing for those reasons there must be racism within the police to account for the figures. It has to be said that figures in the Met show more VEM's being searched than white people but this reflects the large use of S44 Terrorism searches.
The population of my force is approximately 91% white, 6% Asian and 2% Black. The 2010/2011 statistics show that of those stopped and searched by the police in the force, 83% were white, 8.5% Asian, 5.5% Black and 3% Mixed Race. Does this mean that the Force has racist tendencies we need to address? I have no doubt that there are racists in the Force. Plenty is done to tease and weed them out, but at the end of the day police officers are recruited from the general population, some of whom are racists. Any racists in the force don't show themselves up in stop and search. Records are monitored to see if any officers are searching VEM's disproportionately. I have concerns that some officers avoid searching VEM's in case of accusations of racism.
Some stop and searches are spontaneous. For example, if you stop a vehicle or person in the street and there is a smell of cannabis, that may give you grounds to search. In most cases though, there is an incident report to support stop and searches. For example, if a crime is reported by phone and a suspect has recently been seen, a description is taken and passed over the radio to officers. I am not aware that this sort of detailed research has previously been carried out.
I decided to go through the latest incidents in my own force area until I had found 100 with a description that had been circulated to officers to try and trace offenders. By the time I had reached 100, 18 incidents had suspects described as VEM's. This is almost identical to the 17% of VEM's searched by officers in the force, which is almost double the 9% of VEM's resident within the Force.
I do appreciate that this is just one small sample and even if these figures were replicated elsewhere, it may just reflect racism within the public reporting crime. It may however show that the police are simply acting responsibly to what is being reported to them. Perhaps Mr Marshall, you needn't be disappointed with your officers after all.
7 months ago