Police use stop and search powers over 5,000 times
Police officers in the North East conducted thousands of stop and searches last year, new figures show.
Home Office data shows Northumbria Police officers used the powers 5,017 times in the year to March – down from 5,306 the year before.
The force was one of just a handful of forces nationally to see a drop in the number of stop and searches conducted – with the proportion leading to an arrest rising from 13% to 14% over this period.
In the Northumbria force area, 59% of stop and searches were for drugs – the same proportion as in 2019-20.
Nationally, the number of stop and searches rose from 577,000 in 2019-20 to 704,000 in 2020-21 – almost 2,000 a day – but the arrest rate fell from 13% to 11% – the lowest level since 2012-13.
StopWatych UK – which represents a range of civil society organisations, human rights groups, academics and campaigners – claims the majority of searches cause more problems than they solve.
Dr Laura Garius, policy lead for Release, which comprises experts on drug laws, said black and other ethnic minority individuals are being disproportionately targeted, despite drug use being no higher among these groups than among the white population.
The Home Office said police used extra officers and resources to tackle drug crime during the coronavirus lockdown, and also removed almost 16,000 dangerous weapons from our streets.
A spokesman added: “No one should be targeted for stop and search because of their race and there are extensive safeguards in place to prevent this.”