It is possible for members of the public to see statistics of all England and Wales Police Forces stop and search occurrences.
Force view on current rates of disproportionality
Disproportionality relates to the numbers of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) members of our community who appear to be searched more often than those who are White.
South Yorkshire Police is currently reviewing countywide stop and search statistics in order to understand the reasons behind any disproportionality, the impact upon our communities and the attitudes of both our staff and the public towards the issue.
The Force is also currently reviewing research and studies into disproportionality to understand the most accurate way of measuring the demographics of communities and why those who are members of certain communities are more frequently the subject of stop and search. For example, some studies suggest that some BAME communities reside in under privileged areas, which are linked to a higher volume of crime, which in turn may lead to the stop and search figures being disproportionate for those communities.
The current picture
Please see tables below.
In 2017/2018 the rate of searches recorded on the Government website for the Force were shown as three Asian, five Black, two Mixed and one White per 1000 of population, compared to the current data above of 10.4 Asian, 17.8 Black, 6.9 White and 9.2 mixed from between April 2019 and January 2020. Whilst there is an increase in numbers (for a variety of reasons) the proportions as a percentage of the total number of searches for that 12 month period for each category are as below:
Asian 2017/18 = 27%; 2019/20 = 24%
Black 2017/18 = 45%; 2019/20 = 40%
White 2017/18 = 9%; 2019/20 = 16%
Mixed 2017 = 18%; 2019/20 = 20%
This demonstrates that disproportionality has decreased in Black and Asian communities whilst it has increased within white and mixed communities. While this analysis may demonstrate improvement in some areas in relation to disproportionality, the fact remains that the figures demonstrate BAME people are more likely to be searched for a variety of reasons.
Another significant factor alongside this is the percentage of young people who identify as BAME. Most searches tend to take place on individuals who are in the 16 to 34 age group. This is the age group which intelligence suggests is most likely to be involved in activities such as drug possession and membership of Organised Crime Groups (OCGs). These types of activity are the types that frequently result in the participants being searched by officers. Similarly, they will be the most readily accessible population (considering the previously mentioned research). Statistics from Sheffield schools states that 36% of their attendees are now from the BAME community, which is a massive increase on registered statistics which saw the country track at around 11 % in 2004.
If our data tells us that we stop and search more people under 25, they identify as BAME more readily than general population by factor of 3, hence this could add to the reasons why disproportionality is a factor. It is not a simple area of work to unpick nor to explain. The continued and ongoing awareness of such is rightly discussed and analysed in relation to our work and community confidence.
The training of staff, the data analysis of searches (linked to the location of the search relating to the community population and ethnicity data of each area) within South Yorkshire Police are all helping to reduce the rates of disproportionality and explain the rationale for such results. As mentioned above, crime is often linked to disadvantaged geographical areas of our districts, and often such the communities who reside there contain higher proportions of BAME people, hence a potential reason for this disproportionality. Having said this, by far the highest number of searches across South Yorkshire are that of White people.
Overall, the data for South Yorkshire is more proportionate than the national picture. However, we are committed to working on these points:
- Ensuring location data is accurate on stop and search reports
- That our officers understand and utilise their training in unconscious bias
- Ensuring we record the ethnicity of the people we stop and search
In the monitoring of complaints, we receive very few around stop and search but again, we are undertaking further analysis of this area to identify any links between stop search and ethnicity.
Ideally, we would hope to achieve no unjustified disproportionality. We hope that our research, and our commitment to continuously analysing, sharing and discussing our data in an honest and transparent way, will maintain the trust and confidence of all the communities we serve.