PSNI challenged again on racial disparity in stop and search figures

PSNI challenged again on racial disparity in stop and search figures

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the disproportionate use of stop and search by the PSNI on people from minoritised ethnic communities and on children.

In total, 23,650 people were stopped and searched in Northern Ireland by police in the year to the end of March 2023, according to new figures published yesterday.

Of the 23,650 stops in the year ending 31 March 2023, people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds accounted for 1,291 stops — 5.5 per cent of the total — despite making up just 3.4 per cent of the total population according to the 2021 census.

Irish Travellers were the ethnic group most disproportionately searched by the PSNI, accounting for 355 stops — 2.7 per cent of the overall figure — despite making up just 0.1 per cent of the Northern Ireland population.

Children aged between 13 to 17 years make up only six per cent of the population but accounted for almost 11 per cent of all stop and searches.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland director, said: “If you are from a minoritised ethnic community, you are almost twice as likely to be stopped and searched by the PSNI than if you are from the white majority community. The police need to explain why, year after year, this continues to the case.

“Black and minority ethnic people in Northern Ireland tell us they feel over-policed, yet under-protected when they themselves are victims of racist hate crime.

“The use of stop and search on children is also worrying. There were more than 2,500 stops of children under these powers last year, including children aged 12 years and younger. Yet fewer than three per cent of these searches resulted in arrest, suggesting the vast majority of stops were unnecessary.

“Every groundless stop and search can leave a long-lasting negative impact on community relations as well as on the individuals themselves.”

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