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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 16:36 GMT
Concern over stop and search figures
Jack Straw
Jack Straw: "More work needs to be done"
Race campaign groups say they are worried by new official figures showing that black people are five times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

The report from the Home Office also found that almost 60% of the people arrested for robbery by the Metropolitan Police were black.

The Campaign for Racial Equality said the findings were "a cause for concern" and called on the police to make sure searches were carried out in a non-discriminatory way.

The figures show there has been little progress over the last 10 years

Harry Fletcher
The number of people stopped and searched fell significantly across all ethnic backgrounds last year from more than one million to 800,000.

But black people were five times more likely to be stopped than white people, according to one of the key findings of the report, entitled Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System.

A separate Home Office report found that the number of racially motivated incidents nationally reported to police rose by 107%.

Police 'must win trust'

The Commission for Racial Equality welcomed the publication of the latest figures but urged caution.

A spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "It is a cause for concern that if you are a black person you are more likely to be stopped and searched.

"Police have to take the necessary steps to make sure they are winning the trust of communities.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence: Murder led to a major public inquiry
"They must ensure stop and searches are carried out in a non-discriminatory way."

Assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, Harry Fletcher, said: "The figures show there has been little progress over the last 10 years.

"Black people are still disproportionately stopped and searched, arrested and jailed.

"It's crucial that all criminal justice professionals, including judges, study the statistics and ensure that there are improvements before the next publication."

'Long way to go'

Jude Woodward, from the National Assembly Against Racism, said that the figures debunked the idea of "political correctness gone mad" after the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

"This shows the police, and in particular the Metropolitan Police, have a long way to go in taking on board the lessons of the Lawrence report about police operation, relations with the black and minority ethnic groups and in stamping out racism within the ranks," she said.

Police use of stop and search tactics fell by 40% in the Metropolitan Police for white people and Asians and by 35% for blacks last year, compared with the previous year.

Although there has been much welcome improvement, there is still much more work to be done

Jack Straw
This was far higher than the average fall which was 14% in the rest of England and Wales for white people and Asians and 10% for black people.

Figures showed black people accounted for 57.2% of arrests for robbery in the Met's area compared to an average of 28.2% in the whole of England and Wales.

Home Secretary Jack Straw said robbery figures reflected the fact that a high proportion of street crime in London was carried out by black people.

"That is not because they are black but because of their social background, age group and educational attainment," he said.

'Racist' fear

As Mr Straw revealed the findings of three reports into crime and policing, he said the reports highlighted the need to administer stop and search to ensure it was used fairly and effectively.

"These reports show us that, although there has been much welcome improvement, there is still much more work to be done, building not least, on the recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report," he said.

Conservative leader William Hague previously claimed that the police were being prevented from doing their job for fear of being branded racist.

A Metropolitan Police Authority spokeswoman said that while the statistics showed that the percentage of stop and searches had dropped compared to the previous year, the number of arrests were up by three per cent indicating that resources were better targeted.

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See also:

18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
New row over stop and search
16 Jan 01 | UK
The UK's crime hotspots
25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
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