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Programme highlights Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 16:04 GMT
Race incidents on the rise
Black people are far more likely than whites to be stopped, searched and arrested by police.

The numbers of white and Asian suspects stopped last year fell slightly - while the figure for blacks remained constant - at 93,000.

For every 1,000 people in the population, 16 whites were stopped, 26 Asians and 81 blacks.

The Home Office statistics were released this lunchtime, alongside a report by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary.

That report said that progress was being made on the training and recruitment of officers from ethnic minorities.

Race crimes up

However it also emerged that the total number of reported race crimes rose by more than 100%, to nearly 48,000. Particularly large rises were recorded in counties like West Mercia, Devon and Cornwall.

None of the 43 police districts in England and Wales registered a reduction.

North Yorkshire was found to be failing in six of the 10 areas examined in the report and City of London police was failing in five.

Racial equality groups expressed their concern that the police still seemed to be using 'stop and search' to target young black men.

But the figures were defended by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw. He told the World at One that the effectiveness of 'stop and search' had increased sharply, with a noticeable improvement in London.

Jack Straw
Mr Straw dismissed suggestions the recent rise in violent crime was linked to fewer stop and searches
He denied categorically William Hague's recent contention that the police had been deterred from stopping black youths since the Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence - with its reference to institutionalised racism in the Metropolitan Police.

Claims that police were being affected by political correctness were a smokescreen put up by right-wingers who wanted to allege that the police had 'gone soft on the black community', but didn't dare say so openly.

He also told the programme that the doubling of reported race crimes was good news because it showed that minorities were now confident that their concerns would be dealt with by the police.

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Home Secretary Jack Straw
"The police's job is to stop and search anyone against whom they have a reasonable suspicion"
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