Just Sociology

Disproportionality in Police Stop and Search for Drug Possession: Impact Implications and Solutions

The disproportionate stop and search of black people has been a longstanding issue in policing across numerous countries, and the UK is no exception. A recent report by the UK government found that black people are 9.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched in England and Wales than white people.

Disproportionality in police stop and search can have serious implications and impact the relationship between police officers and those they serve. This article will discuss the increasing disproportionality in police stop and search, the reasons for this trend, and the use of force in this policing practice.

Increasing Disproportionality

The disparity in stop and search rates has significantly increased over the last few years in the UK. While the use of this policing practice has decreased, its implementation on black people has increased.

According to a study by the UK Home Office, between 2018 and 2019, there was a 19% decrease in stop and search incidents, with the largest decrease of 28% among white people. However, black people experienced only a 4% decrease during the same period, indicating a clear increase in disproportionality.

Statistics show that there were more than 4 million stop and search incidents between 2018 and 2019, with black people accounting for 26% of these incidents.

Ethnicity and Stop and Search Rates

Stop and search rates are also influenced by ethnicity. For example, black people, compared to white people, are more likely to be stopped and searched.

However, Black Other and Asian people are the groups most likely to have been stopped and searched according to the most recent government report. When you look at the figures, 87.5 stops and searches for every 1,000 Black Other people in England and Wales in 201920.

This is compared with 10.5 for every 1,000 white people. Additionally, Asian people were found to be 3.3 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people during the same period.

Ethnicity, therefore, plays a significant role in stop and search rates, and this is not something that can be ignored.

Reasons for Disproportionality

Several reasons can explain the increasing disproportionality in police stop and search. The British police’s long history of race relations has played a significant role in this trend.

The 1981 Brixton riots highlighted the issue of police racism and entrenched institutional racism within the UK police force. This event brought attention to the systemic discrimination of black people in the UK, and efforts were made to reform the police over the years.

However, the recent lockdown fines have added to the reasons for this long-standing issue. Black people have been issued more fines for COVID-19- related offenses compared to any other ethnic group.

The trend has been so stark that the UK government conducted a review with the goal of establishing why such a disproportionality should exist. The review found that black people were almost four times more likely than white individuals to receive fines relating to breaking the rules on socially distancing.

Use of Force on Black People

The use of force, such as physical restraint or Tazers, during police stop and search has been a cause for concern, particularly among black people. The recent Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report found that black people were 3.3 times more likely to have force used against them than white individuals.

HMICFRS hypothesises that the officer’s perception of the person they are stopping and searching can impact their decisions on the type of force to use. However, the use of force can have serious consequences, including injury or death, and therefore should not be taken lightly.

Officer Intuition and Stop and Search

Many stop and search incidents are spontaneous and do not follow any specific profile set by national guidelines. Police officers are allowed to initiate a stop and search as long as they have reasonable grounds to do so.

These reasonable grounds are subjective and open for interpretation. This leaves much discretion and power on the hands of the police officer.

Police intuition, based on body cam evidence, indicates that police officers are also more likely to perceive a person as a threat or likely to have committed an offense based on their appearance. This intuition can result in breach of human rights for those stopped and searched.

Conclusion

Disproportionality in police stop and search can have severe implications and affect the relationship between police officers and those they serve. The reasons behind this trend are varied and complex.

The use of force in stop and search practices is also a significant cause of concern, particularly the use of force on black people. The concept of officer intuition and the subjective interpretation of what are reasonable grounds is concerning, and must be addressed.

The policing system must take responsibility, and implement solutions to address the concerns raised in this article.In addition to the disproportional stop and search of black people, drug possession and its association with this policing tactic are further cause for concern. This article discusses the practice of stop and search in the context of suspected drug possession, its impact, and the potential implications for affected communities.

Stop and Search for Drug Possession

Stop and search for drug possession accounts for a significant proportion of all stop and search incidents. Data from 2019-20 illustrates that 39% of stop and search incidents in England and Wales during this period were for drug possession.

The justification for such searches often includes suspicion of possession of illegal drugs or weapons. However, recent studies suggest that some police officers have disregarded guidelines by carrying out stop and search incidents for theft or minor offenses.

Impact of

Stop and Search for Drug Possession

The practice of stop and search for drug possession disproportionately affects certain ethnic groups. Despite drug usage across all ethnicities being reported to be relatively equal, black people are more likely to be searched for drug possession.

A self-report study conducted by the Home Office in 2017 found that drug use rates between ethnicities were similar, with 6.7% of white people having used drugs in the past year, and 6.2% of black people had also used drugs. However, black people were four times more likely to be searched for drug possession, indicating that the act of possessing drugs is being policed disproportionally.

Furthermore, stop and search for drug possession has the potential to cause considerable harm to the impacted communities. These searches and resulting outcomes may lead to profiling, stigmatization, and mistrust of police among these communities.

Additionally, the practice can cause significant harm to individuals’ lives, as it may result in loss of employment, education, and social stigma.

Reducing Disproportionality

Reducing disproportionality of police stop and search for drug possession is a complicated issue. One solution is to address the underlying reasons for its use, such as inequality, institutional racism, and implicit bias within the police force.

Additionally, the development and adoption of a new, evidence-based approach that avoids unnecessary searches or methods that affect communities unfairly is necessary. This method should be based on objective criteria of reasonable suspicion, and officers should be responsible for maintaining accurate data to increase transparency and accountability.

Drug use by Ethnicity

One approach to reduce disproportionality in stop and search for drug possession involves an emphasis on drug treatment rather than punishment. Supporting drug education and rehabilitation programs that target impacted communities can help reduce drug-related crimes, stop and search incidents, and drug abuse.

A holistic approach to drug addiction should be implemented, given numerous contributing factors such as social, economic, and psychological circumstances resulting in use.

Self-report Study Data

Self-report studies on drug use conducted by the Home Office can be useful for understanding drug use by ethnicity. The studies can help identify correlations and the likelihood of drug use based on characteristics such as age, sex, socioeconomic factors, and ethnicity.

This data can be used to develop policies that more accurately reflect the population’s drug use demographics to reduce disproportionality.

Conclusion

Policing practices such as stop and search for drug possession concern communities disproportionately. Despite drug usage rates being equal amongst different ethnic groups, black people are more likely to be searched for drug possession.

Policing the act of possessing drugs in a disproportionately targeted community can cause significant harm to individuals’ lives, leading to social stigma, mistrust of police, and loss of opportunities. To reduce the disproportionality effect on certain communities, an objective, evidence-based approach that avoids unnecessary searches or methods that affect communities unfairly must be implemented.

Additionally, drug rehabilitation programs that are community-inclusive and rehabilitation-focused can help address drug use effectively. Self-report study data can be useful for understanding what drives this behavior and which segments of society it affects most.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, this article discussed the issue of disproportionality in police stop and search, highlighting the disproportionate targeting of certain ethnic groups in drug possession cases. The reasons behind this trend are varied and complex, including race relations, institutional racism, and subjective interpretations of reasonable grounds for suspicion.

The impact of such policing practices can lead to serious consequences such as social stigma and mistrust of police in impacted communities. To address this problem, an evidence-based and transparent approach with a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment should be implemented.

Collecting self-report study data and developing inclusive policies can also help reduce the disproportionality effect on certain communities.

FAQs:

Q: Why is disproportionality in police stop and search an issue?

A: Disproportionality in police stop and search can have severe implications and affect the relationship between police officers and those they serve. Q: What are some of the reasons behind the increasing disproportionality trend?

A: The British police’s long history of race relations, institutional racism, and the subjective interpretation of what are reasonable grounds are major reasons behind the trend. Q: How does drug possession relate to this issue?

A: Police stop and search for drug possession is a significant cause of disproportionality, often targeting certain ethnic groups unfairly. Q: What solutions can address the issue of disproportionality in police stop and search?

A: Implementing objective, evidence-based approaches based on reasonable suspicion, rehabilitation-focused drug education and treatment programs, and collecting self-report study data can help reduce disproportionality in police stop and search. Q: How can data be gathered to better understand the impact of policing practices?

A: The Home Office conducts self-report studies that can help identify correlations and the likelihood of drug use among different demographics such as age, sex, and ethnicity.

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