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Stop and search incidents down against minorities
ONE of Thames Valley’s top policemen has defended his force’s use of stop and search powers after new figures showed that fewer black and mixed race people were being pulled up by officers.
Chief Superintendent Tim De Meyer said the force had made a string of changes after being threatened with legal action for stopping and searching too many people from minority groups.
He said stop and search was a vital tool, but highlighted changes to training and monitoring that had helped reduce its use in the county.
Stop and search powers have proved controversial across the UK in recent years due to concerns from ethnic minorities that they are being disproportionately targeted.
Now a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the number of black and mixed race people stopped in Oxfordshire has dropped.
In addition, the overall number of people being stopped and searched has fallen over the last four years.
Ch Supt De Meyer, who is head of neighbourhood policing and partnerships, said he was pleased the statistics were going down.
“We don’t go out to stop a certain number of black, Asian or white people,” he said. “We ask the force to act on reasonable grounds, whatever the appearance of the person.”
The new data shows that the number of black people being stopped in the county fell from 452 in 2010 to 326 in 2012. In addition, the number of Asian people stopped fell from 486 in 2011 to 389 in 2012.
The issue had become increasingly controversial in the wake of the Macpherson review carried out in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder – an inquiry that saw the Metropolitan Police force labelled “institutionally racist”.
Thames Valley Police was threatened with legal action by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in January 2012 for stopping and searching too many minority groups.
The move was dropped in August 2012 after the commission said it was satisfied Thames Valley had tackled the problem.
Ch Supt De Meyer said the force had not had the problems that faced the Metropolitan Police.
He said: “I don’t agree that the police force was institutionally racist in the 1990s but police and community relations have improved since then.
“That’s been down to the development of neighbourhood policing and is crucial to helping us with stop and search.”
However, he added: “We set up a stop and search independent advisory panel made up of representatives of independent advisory groups across the Thames Valley force who have a particular expertise in this area.
“We have also a bigger programme of training we undertake and have systems in place that mean we can monitor the performance of an officer. It is also a requirement for a stop and search report to be completed by the police officer.”
A spokesman for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said: “Thames Valley Police have reduced their unfair use of stop and search powers against black and Asian people.
“The force is being fairer and more efficient in their use of stop and search as a result.”
Oxford University Iranian PhD student Goudarz Karimi, who was mistaken by Thames Valley Police for a suicide bomber in Southfield Road in October 2011, said ethnic minorities were still being unfairly targeted.
Mr Karimi, 28, who is in the last year of his PhD at University College, said: “People from the Middle East are more associated with terrorism and on that
assumption they are being stopped.
“I don’t think that’s right.”
2010: 8,194 Stopped; 481 Arrested
2011: 7,857 Stopped; 683 Arrested
2012: 6,959 Stopped; 451 Arrested
Jan–June 30, 2013: 3,343 Stopped; 217 Arrested
2010: 6,120 Stopped; 342 Arrested
2011: 6,107 Stopped: 533 Arrested
2012: 5,955 Stopped; 386 Arrested
2013: 2,881 Stopped; 179 Arrested
2010: 452 Stopped; 37 Arrested
2011: 342 Stopped; 38 Arrested
2012: 326 Stopped; 23 Arrested
2013: 153 Stopped; 16 Arrested
2010: 277 Stopped; 16 Arrested
2011: 286 Stopped; 33 Arrested
2012: 250 Stopped; 20 Arrested
2013: 121 Stopped; 10 Arrested
2010: 353 Stopped; 29 Arrested
2011: 486 Stopped; 38 Arrested
2012: 389 Stopped; 18 Arrested
2013: 174 Stopped; 12 Arrested
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