New data shows a dramatic reduction in the number of stop and searches under terrorism legislation
The new Stop and Search figures are out today. The data shows that out of all the searches made under Section 44(1) and (2) of the Terrorism Act none resulted in arrests for terrorism offences and less than 1% resulted in arrests for other offences.
We’ve extracted some of the data for you from the excel document the Home Office published today.
The data for searches made under terrorism legislation is broken down by police force and ethnicity for England and Wales between the financial year 2010-2011.
It shows that most searches made under terrorism legislation were conducted in London by the Metropolitan Police (9,913 out of 11,792).
It also shows that none of the searches made under terrorism legislation in Wales resulted in any arrests, with just 79 of all such searches resulting in arrests for other offences.
Stop and search has always been a controversial area. In January 2009, the Government’s anti-terror policy was thrown into turmoil after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that police who use Section 44 without grounds for suspicion are violating individual freedoms and acting illegally.
Until it was repealed in March last year, Section 44 allowed any police force authorised by the home secretary to randomly stop and search any person or vehicle on suspicion of terrorism. Section 47A took its place afterwards.
In addition to terrorism legislation, stops and searches are also performed under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. As Section 1 is the most general, it has recorded the most incidents: no less than 1,205,495 last financial year, or 94.42% of the total searchs.
While searches under Section 1 of PACE can be made by any officer, searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 need to have the authorisation of a more senior officer, because they usually involve suspicion of a serious violence. Last year these amounted to 60,180.
Although considerably fewer than the more general Section 1 searches these were still almost six times the searches under terrorism legislation.
Furthermore as the graph below shows, stops and searches made under Section 1 of PACE are at their highest since 2001. Section 60 searches have almost halved compared to the previous year and Section 44 searches are at their lowest since 2001.
Looking at the breakdown by ethnicity of arrests made following these searches, which were not necessarily made under the sections the searches were conducted, almost 5 times more white people were arrested on the whole than black people.
Still if we take individual sections into account, and as the graph below shows, under Section 60 a similar number of arrests were made for both white and black people, while arrests for asians amounted to half of this number; 505, 532 and 204 respectively.
It also needs to be noted that these figures are not proportional with population numbers and thus don’t paint an accurate picture of the ethnic breakdown of arrests following stops and searches.
What else would you show with these numbers?