Dorset Police 25 times more likely to stop black people than white people

Dorset Police 25 times more likely to stop black people than white people

Published by Maria Greenwood at 9:01am 11th June 2020.

Black people are 25 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police in Dorset than white people.

It has the highest rate of stop and searches carried out on Black people in the country outside of London, which has the overall highest.

Dorset Police has been responding to a report which shows 6.2% of Black people in the county were stopped and searched in the space of a year.

During the same time period, only 0.2% of white people were stopped and searched.

The data, released by the government, shows incidents which took place between April 2018 and March 2019.

police car on weymouth esplanade

'What is stop and search?'

  • The police have the power to stop and search you if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you have been involved in a crime, or think that you are in possession of a prohibited item.
  • Prohibited items include drugs, weapons and stolen property.

A spokesperson for Dorset police said:

"We are very aware of the concerns around the use of stop and search, especially in light of recent events in the USA. 

"Stop and search, used properly, is a valuable tool in dealing with criminal behaviour, helping us deal with many offences, from possession of controlled substances to burglary.

"However, anyone subject to stop and search will know that it can be an unsettling experience, which only magnifies the upset felt by those who feel they have been stopped without reason or because of bias. We understand that and have been working to make sure our use of stop and search is appropriate and justified.

Police night

"Dorset Police adopted the ‘Best Use of Stop Search’ and in 2019/20 of the 2,105 searches which were undertaken, 153 were individuals who identified as black and over half of those people were not residents of Dorset. This is an important context to recognise because figures are based on the resident population rather than visitors and therefore can exaggerate the disproportionality rate.

"Having said this we recognise that any disproportionality can raise concerns and affect people’s perception of policing and, in Dorset, we are working hard to do all we can to ensure our use of stop and search is lawful, justified and necessary.

"Since October 2017 we have been working with an independent scrutiny panel which was established by the Police & Crime Commissioner to ensure that our use of stop and search is fair and held to account. The panel review grounds, outcomes and a small sample of the body worn video available for stop and searches. The overwhelming response from this panel is the activity of our police officers is proportionate and justified.

"We have always worked hard to ensure that our communities and residents feel supported and protected by our officers and staff and we will continue learning lessons to improve the service we offer, especially to vulnerable communities and those who suffer prejudice and racism in their everyday lives."