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Black people 'nine times more likely' to be stopped and searched for drugs

The report also finds that black people are treated more harshly when they are found in possession of drugs. Credit: PA

Black people in England and Wales are almost nine times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched for drugs, according to a report.

The analysis by the Stopwatch coalition, drug law experts Release and the London School of Economics and Political Science highlights that, while police use of stop and search powers has fallen significantly, there has been an increase in racial disparities in the policing and prosecution of drug offences.

Arrests for drugs as a result of stop and search fell by 52% for white people between 2010/11. Credit: PA

By 2016/17, black people were stopped and searched at 8.7 times the rate of white people for drugs, and 7.9 times the rate of white people for other offences, the report said.

In the year to March 2017, police in England and Wales carried out 303,845 stops and searches, the lowest number since current data records started in 2001/02.

303,845
Number of stop and searches carried out in the year to March 2017

The tactics have attracted controversy amid criticism they have unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 by then home secretary Theresa May to ensure the powers are used in a more targeted way.

The new report, called The Colour Of Injustice: Race, Drugs and Law Enforcement in England and Wales, said drugs searches account for 60% of all stop and searches, with the vast majority for simple possession.

60%
Percentage of stop and searches that are drug related

The report also finds that black people are treated more harshly when they are found in possession of drugs.

The detection rate from stop and search is similar for all ethnic groups, but black people are arrested at a higher rate than white people and given out of court disposals at a lower rate, according to the analysis.

Arrests for drugs as a result of stop and search fell by 52% for white people between 2010/11 and 2016/17, but did not fall at all for black people, the report said.

There has been a rise in racial disparities in the policing of drug offences. Credit: PA

Dr Rebekah Delsol, co-author, said: “More than four years after the home secretary declared that stop and search is unfair to young black men, it is shocking that the situation has got worse not better.

“The police are clearly unable or unwilling to deal with the problem and a solution needs to come from elsewhere.

“It is time for the Government to deliver on the promise of primary legislation.

“Forces that cannot use stop and search fairly and effectively should have the powers taken away from them until they can show that they can be trusted to use these powers appropriately.”

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The authors of the report based their analysis on official statistics and the standard methodology used by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to assess ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.

Last month, police forces in England and Wales increased their use of stop-and-search powers for a week, to carry out weapons sweeps and to target habitual blade carriers as part of a nationwide blitz on knife crime.