Black people more likely to be arrested than white people in Gloucestershire

Black people in Gloucestershire are over seven times more likely to be arrested than white people, new figures show.

Civil lobbying charity Liberty, which campaigns for justice and equality, accused the police of acting unjustly towards ethnic minorities and called on the Government to reduce police powers, while Gloucestershire Police acknowledged the figures were ‘disappointing’.

Home Office data show 276 arrests of black people were made in Gloucestershire in 2020-21.

This equated to an estimated 53.6 arrests per 1,000 black people in the area, based on population figures from the 2011 census.

In contrast, there were just seven arrests per 1,000 white people, meaning a black person was 7.7 times more likely to be arrested.

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Police said: “These figures are disappointing and we know they can affect the confidence our ethnically diverse communities have in policing.

“We fully support the National Police Chiefs’ Council Race Action Plan launched in May to address racial inequalities in policing and are committed to becoming an anti-discriminatory organisation.

“Some of the recent measures we have taken include the introduction of unconscious bias and bystander training, the establishment of a community legitimacy panel where people from our ethnically diverse communities analyse and feedback on our progress, an innovative reverse mentoring scheme and black history events giving colleagues the chance to hear the experiences of black people in our communities.

“We acknowledge many feel that the pace of change has been slow and that there is much more to do. The NPCC Plan, coupled with what we call our ‘Better Together’ programme of work, gives us an opportunity to accelerate the changes that are still needed.

The Constabulary’s commitment to become and anti-discriminatory organisation can be found here: gloucestershire.police.uk/police-forces/gloucestershire-constabulary/areas/gloucestershire/about-us/about-us/commitment-to-being-an-anti-discriminatory-organisation

For information on our ethnically diverse Community Legitimacy Panel and the minutes from its meetings please visit: gloucestershire.police.uk/police-forces/gloucestershire-constabulary/areas/gloucestershire/about-us/about-us/Community-Legitimacy-Panel

More information on our Better Together programme can be found here: gloucestershire.police.uk/police-forces/gloucestershire-constabulary/areas/gloucestershire/ca/careers/better-together 

More information on the national Police Race Action Plan can be found here: college.police.uk/support-forces/diversity-and-inclusion/action-plan

Across England and Wales as a whole, black people were 3.3 times more likely to be arrested than white people in 2020-21.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said the figures “highlight the injustices that black communities face across the criminal justice system”.

Ms Andrews said: “The police should not be handed more powers, and their existing ones must be rolled back.”

But the Home Office says “more is being done in policing than ever before 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 the police accountable.”

Dorset Police had the largest disparity in arrest rates, with black people nearly 11 times more likely to be arrested, while North Yorkshire had the lowest – though a black person was still twice as likely to be arrested.

Habib Kadiri, research and policy manager at StopWatch, an anti stop and search charity, said the racial disparity in arrests is “symptomatic of an attitude that excuses the disproportionate targeting of black people under the guise that they are more likely to be involved in violence and drug crime”.

Mr Kadiri also raised concerns regarding racial disparity in stop and search rates.

“The persistent racial disparity in stop and searches demonstrates the degree to which the misuse of frontline policing powers is institutionalised,” he added.

Separate Home Office figures show there were 52.6 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people across England and Wales in 2020-21.

This is compared to just 7.5 per 1,000 white people, meaning a black person is more than seven times more likely to be stopped.

In Gloucestershire, 28.7 stop and searches per 1,000 black people were carried out, compared to 4.3 per 1,000 white people.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Every knife taken off our streets is a potential life saved, with 16,000 dangerous weapons removed from the streets and almost 81,000 arrests made last year because of stop and search.

“No one should be stopped because of their race, but tragically data shows that young black men are disproportionately more likely to be the victims of knife crime.”

Lancs Gazette Series | Gloucestershire