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Bradford MP raises stop and search concerns in Parliament

Bradford MP West Naz Shah Credit: PA Images

Police 'stop and search' needs urgent reform as it unfairly targets black and Asian communities, according to a local MP.

Bradford MP West Naz Shah led a debate in Westminster Hall today outlining her concerns.

The Labour MP said the technique was "neither the solution to crime problems nor a substitute for intelligence from good relationships with communities".

"For many in our BAME communities, racial profiling and discriminatory policing is real. It is corrosive and it is undermining trust in public institutions."

She added: "On the ground the ease with which police officers can use their discretionary powers together with their widely divergent views about what constitutes as reasonable suspicion means that stop and search has become the go-to power for social control, and one that is influenced by unconscious biases or outright racial prejudices."

Figures for 2017, she said, estimated that black people were searched at over eight times the rate of white people. Credit: PA Images

Figures for 2017, she said, estimated that black people were searched at over eight times the rate of white people.

Ms Shah warned society was at risk of "allowing stop and search to regress back to unacceptably high levels of disproportionality".

The Prime Minister, she argued, had allowed disproportionality to increase and the pace of reform to grind to a halt.

However, Tory MP Phil Davies suggested communities are suffering because of the "potential under-use of stop and search".

Philip Davies said stop and search numbers had reduced dramatically as a result of "politically correct chatter", adding: "One of the reasons is that the police are fearing stopping and searching people in case they are branded racist."

Phil Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley Credit: PA Images

The last thing police needed, he argued, was "meddlesome politicians" interfering in their operational work. The MP for Shipley said: "It's totally unacceptable to have a situation where officers are leaving criminals free to commit crimes simply because they want to avoid having complaints about racism against them."

His comments during a Westminster Hall debate on the effect of police stop and search powers on BAME communities drew sharp rebukes from Opposition MPs.

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott intervened, asking: "For the avoidance of doubt, are you saying that the disproportionate levels of stop and search exercises on black people, on Muslim people, people from south Asia, is because we are more criminal?"

Mr Davies replied: "For certain offences black people are more likely to be found guilty of offences than white people, that's a fact."

He said that on the evidence it may well be that this should result in a change to the recent policy of stop and search, and "it should be used more".

Labour MP Diane Abobtt speaks during a demonstration for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fir Credit: PA Images

Ms Abbott said: "It is my view that nothing has poisoned relationships between the police and the communities that they serve, nothing has poisoned those relationships more than non-evidence based stop and search."

She said Mr Davies talked about the support among ethnic minorities for stop and search used fairly: "But he missed that important word: everybody supports stop and search where it is used fairly, the concern arises when there is no evidence to justify the stop and the search and the concern arises when it is felt there is disproportionality."