South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings has responded to a report released today on the disproportionate use of police powers around stop and search.
The report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) states that police forces must explain the disproportionate use of police powers such as stop and search and use of force on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people or risk losing the trust of the communities they serve.
Dr Billings said: “I welcome this report as a contribution to an important debate we are already having in South Yorkshire.
“If we are to overcome discrimination and disproportionality we must first understand why it happens. Only then will we be able to see what we must do to make an effective and lasting difference.
“Much of what is discussed in the report is already well understood in South Yorkshire. My Independent Ethics Panel, for example, regularly considers the use of stop and search and their findings are shared with the police.
“We understand very well that stop and search must be intelligence led and if too many stops do not result in tangible outcomes that will impact negatively on some communities – and then trust and confidence in the police is damaged.
“In South Yorkshire, more than 20% of stop and searches have positive results – mainly finding drugs, but sometimes weapons.
“We also note that in Sheffield some mothers from ethnic minority groups have asked for stop and search to continue – as long as it is done fairly and proportionately – because they do not want their children drawn into a life of drugs.
“We also recognise that wherever possible we want to keep children and young people out of the criminal justice system.
“We need to have a focus on bringing drug dealers to justice and the police are having growing success in seizing the assets of those involved in this criminality.
“The report is, however, disappointing in having nothing to say about why young people from ethnic minority groups are more likely to be stopped and searched. But my Independent Ethics Panel has made some progress in this regard, realising that those who are stopped and searched come from the 17-35 age cohort in which those from ethnic minorities form a bigger proportion than in the population as a whole – though this is not a complete explanation.
“We will use the report to stimulate our on-going discussions.”
The full HMICFRS report is available here: Disproportionate use of police powers – A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force