Government Report 7% Rise in Racism

Making the criminal justice system more effective at rooting out and tackling racism and racist crime must be a priority for all, Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said today, as the Government republished its Section 95 statistics. Mr Sutcliffe reiterated the Government’s commitment to working closely with communities and criminal justice agencies to further increase black and minority ethnic groups’ confidence in the system. The Section 95 figures, contained in Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, were originally published on 30 March 2006. They were withdrawn after concerns over their accuracy.

Gerry Sutcliffe, Home Office Minister with responsibility for the criminal justice system, said: “It is vital we deliver a system which represents everyone, promotes equality and in which we can all have confidence, whether as victims, witnesses, defendants, offenders, or as staff working within Criminal Justice System agencies.

“Failure to tackle race-hate crime undermines that confidence, and can create fear in entire communities. I believe that progress made in investigating and prosecuting hate crime has given people more confidence to report incidents and helped prevent them from happening in the first place. A greater number of racist incidents are being reported while racially motivated crime numbers are falling.

“We know stop and search is a vital tool in tackling crime but we also recognise that it remains a contentious issue for Black and Asian communities. That is why we formed a Stop and Search Action Team to ensure that this tool is used as fairly and effectively as possible in the prevention and detection of crime.

“Black and minority ethnic communities are still most at risk of being victims of crime. We are improving victim and witness care through witness care units, a witness charter and a dedicated commissioner to champion victims’ rights in a bid to tackle this.

“We are committed to achieving a diverse workforce in the criminal justice system service. I am pleased to see that in the past year, the police, prison and probation services have all recorded an increase in the number of black and minority ethnic staff and the percentage of black and minority ethnic staff in Crown and magistrates’ courts has increased.”

The republished figures show racist incidents recorded by the police have risen by 7 per cent. The inaccurate figures published in March 2006 showed a rise of 12 per cent. Individuals from black and minority ethnic communities continue to be stopped and searched more regularly than white people and are more likely to be victims of crime. But significant progress has been made, and although racist incidents recorded by the police rose in 2004/05, the British Crime Survey (BCS) that records people’s self-reported experiences of crime estimates the number of racist incidents fell.

Key findings from the 2004/05 figures published today include:

  • Black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people. There were nearly twice as many searches of Asian people than white people. Overall the rise in the number of these stops and searches is 14 per cent.

  • Stops and searches under PACE of black people went up by 9 per cent, Asian people by 11.5 per cent, ‘other’ ethnic backgrounds by 25 per cent and white by 15 per cent.

  • Terrorism-related searches have increased by 9 per cent overall. The increase on the previous year for white people was 14 per cent, while the ‘other’ group saw an increase of 12 per cent. Searches for black people were down 7 per cent and for Asian people, down five per cent.

  • Black people were more than three times more likely to be arrested than white people.

  • Black and minority ethnic groups are becoming better represented as employees in the criminal justice agencies, but the police service remains the agency with the poorest representation of BME groups – 3.5% of police officers were from BME groups (as at March 2005); this compares to 4.4% for prison officers and 10.9% for probation staff.

  • Racist incidents recorded by the police have increased by 7 per cent in the past year. However, the BCS shows the number of incidents is decreasing (from 206,000 in 2003/04 to 179,000 in 2004/05).

  • Black people are more likely to have made a complaint against the police compared with other BME groups.