Race Disparity Audit: Durham bucks stop and search trend

By Sophie Gregory 

A major audit into race disparity has revealed inequalities between ethnicities in the United Kingdom in factors such as health, education and police treatment.

The collated data has revealed that Durham is the only place in the UK where those from White ethnicity (defined as White British, White Irish and Any Other White Background) are more likely to be arrested than those from Black backgrounds (defined as Black African, Black Caribbean and Any Other Black Background).

In Durham, the 2015/16 stop and search rate is 7.2 per 1,000 residents. For each ethnic group respectively in Durham, the stop and search rate is 3.2 for the Asian ethnicity group, 5.7 for the Black group, 3.5 for Mixed, 3.0 for Other and 7.2 for those of White ethnicity. White people are thus 1.2 times more likely to be stopped and searched than Black people in Durham.

Durham is an exception to the national trend. In the United Kingdom, people from an ethnic minority background are three times more likely to be stopped and searched than White people, with Black people found six times more likely to be stopped and searched than White people.

Durham Constabulary told Palatinate: “Durham Constabulary has invested significantly in recent years in regard to the organisations approach as to how coercive powers such as stop and search are applied, audited, scrutinised and exposed to intrusive external oversight.

“These figures provide confirmation that our methods have worked well in terms of ensuring that no ethnic minority groups are likely to be subject to prejudicial stop searches.

“The key to our approach is centred upon staff awareness and training, which ensures that staff fully understand their powers and apply policy as per current national guidance. Equally important is our internal audit and oversight on stop and searches, and for this purpose each stop and search record on our computer systems, is subject to audit by a senior officer.

“In addition, the force has mandated that each stop and search interaction is captured on a Body Worn Image device, which then allows any interaction to be reviewed in terms of compliance with legislation and best practice, but also for officer behaviour to be assessed.

“Our overall approach is intelligence led, focusing police activity in crime hot spot areas, and targeted towards known criminality, but with oversight ensuring that our actions are appropriate and proportionate.

“The fact that searches across all ethnic groups are proportionate to the ratio the resident population confirms that our approach is successful.

“Durham Constabulary is more than comfortable with the findings of the report, which we believe provides some confirmation on the validity of our approach and methods.”

In the UK, 87% of people are White, and 13% belong to a Black, Asian, Mixed or Other ethnic group.

The audit further revealed that in 2016 the lowest rates of employment for each ethnic group were generally seen in northern regions; such as the North East (71% for White British and 74% for White Other) and the North West (59% for Black and 64% for Indian).

Figures regarding ethnic groups and further education showed that in 2015, 78.2% of learners in further education were from a White background.

This is lower than the White share of the overall population (84.6%). Those from Black ethnic groups made up 6.3% of all participants in institutions of further education, which is higher than the Black share of the overall population (3.7%).

The data shows that the percentage of ethnic minority groups, excluding those from a White background, have been gradually increasing over time since 2002/03.

However, other glaring issues are highlighted with regards to education, one example being that Black Caribbean pupils are permanently excluded from school at three times the rate of white British pupils.

The audit also revealed worrying figures highlighting employment. Unemployment among Black, Asian and minority ethnic people is nearly double that of white Britons. The North/South divide also came under scrutiny.

Unemployment rates are generally higher for White people than ethnic minorities across the country, but the gap in the north (13.6%) is significantly wider than that in the south (9%).

Critics of the research have suggested that the audit does not do enough to tackle racial inequality within the United Kingdom. Dawn Butler, MP for Brent Central, in a speech on the Race Disparity Audit stated: “Our Prime Minister, knowing full well the damage that would be caused by Conservative cuts, has done nothing but exacerbate the problems.

“Far from tackling burning injustices, she has added fuel to the fire. We need solutions and a sustained effort to tackle those burning injustices, because talking shops just will not cut it.”

The full results of the audit can be found via a government portal.

Photograph: Sophie Gregory

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