by George Watkins
Black citizens were stopped and searched by police nearly 7 times more frequently than White people in Cardiff from July to December 2017, according to new research obtained by Gair Rhydd from South Wales Police.
There were 194 in total, equating to 15.23 people per 1000 of the general Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) population, compared to 2.26 of the White population. In comparison, only self-defined Chinese people were stopped the least, at 1.22. Asian/ Asian British were at 3.91, and Mixed Race at 4.22.
Police officers have the power to stop and search if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect that someone is carrying drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime. Recently, ethnicity has begun to be recorded as one monitor of diversity, after criticism over the prevalence of BME citizens being stopped.
The tactic has come under immense scrutiny, after a vow by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to increase their frequency in a bid to tackle knife crime in the capital. According to research released by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, black civilians are less likely to be found carrying drugs than white when stopped and searched in England and Wales.
Carson Arthur from the campaign group StopWatch, said that the disproportionate usage of the tactic on BME citizens is historically used in conjunction with strict drug laws to disrupt and control British BME communities:
“It’s not surprising to read that report, in particular that finding that white people are more likely to [be caught] carrying drugs yet black people are disproportionately stopped and searched.” He noted. ““It just vindicates what a lot of black people who have been stopped and searched have been saying for many years.”
Beyond Stop and Search, the statistics reflect a general disparity across the constabulary between white and non-white communities. Cardiff’s BME population sits at 6.6%, but only 2.2% of officers are from Black and Ethnic Minority backgrounds, in contrast with 97.8% officers being white, from a 93.4% proportion of the overall population.
This gulf visibly increases further up the hierarchy. Generally, the higher the rank, the smaller the proportion of BME officers. 0.8% of officers rank Inspector or above, that is, 1 officer compared to 127 white, 99.2% from a 93.4% proportional overall white population. Only 2 people from BME backgrounds rank Chief Inspector or above.
However, these figures are not unusual for the rest of the constabulary across England and Wales, and, in fact, are nowhere near the lowest. West Midlands Police, for example, see only 9.3% of their force being from BME backgrounds, from 29.9% of the local population. Clearly this is symptomatic of a wider issue.
Overall, the constabulary saw 3,539 stops, with 47.67% of these being due to suspicion of drugs. Of these, the vast majority, 59.82% ended with no further action being taken. Cathays, with a predominantly student population, saw 339.