UK government defends its strength as figures reveal damaging policing
Black people in West Mercia are more than six times more likely to be arrested than white people, according to new figures.
The civil lobbying charity Liberty, which campaigns for justice and equality, has accused the police of acting unfairly towards ethnic minorities and called on the government to reduce police powers.
Home Office figures show 97 arrests of black people were made in West Mercia in 2020-21.
That equates to about 19.2 arrests per 1,000 black people in the region, based on 2011 census population figures.
By contrast, there were only 2.9 arrests per 1,000 white people, meaning a black person was 6.6 times more likely to be arrested.
Arrest rates were up from 2019-20, before the coronavirus pandemic, when 16.8 arrests per 1,000 black people and 2.4 per 1,000 white people were made.
In England and Wales, black people were 3.3 times more likely to be arrested than white people in 2020-21.
Emmanuelle Andrews, head of policy and campaigns at Liberty, said the numbers “highlight the injustices black communities face in the criminal justice system.”
Ms Andrews said: ‘Police should not be given more powers and their existing powers must be reversed.
But the Home Office says “more than ever, more is being done in policing to ensure everyone is treated fairly and without prejudice”.
A spokesperson added: “We now have the most diverse police force in history and have extensive safeguards in place to hold police accountable.”
Dorset Police had the biggest disparity in arrest rates, with black people almost 11 times more likely to be arrested, while North Yorkshire had the lowest – although a black person was still twice as likely likely to be stopped.
Habib Kadiri, head of research and policy at StopWatch, an anti-arrest and research charity, said the racial disparity in arrests is “symptomatic of an attitude that condones the disproportionate targeting of black people on the pretext that they are more likely to be involved in drug-related violence and crime”.
Kadiri also raised concerns about the racial disparity in arrest and search rates.
“The continuing racial disparity in stops and searches demonstrates how institutionalized the abuse of frontline police powers is,” he added.
Separate figures from the Home Office show there were 52.6 stops and searches per 1,000 black people in England and Wales in 2020-21.
This is compared to just 7.5 per 1,000 white people, which means a black person is more than seven times more likely to be arrested.
In Western Mercia, 52.9 stops and searches per 1,000 black people were carried out, compared to 3.8 per 1,000 white people.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Every knife removed from our streets is a potential life saved, with 16,000 dangerous weapons removed from the streets and almost 81,000 arrests made last year due to stops and excavations.
“No one should be arrested because of their race, but tragically, data shows that young black men are disproportionately more likely to be victims of knife crime.”