To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of recently published figures relating to stop-and-search operations undertaken by the police.
Lord Brett: My Lords, stop and search is a vital tool in preventing, detecting and reducing crime. Increases in stop and search reflect the importance of these powers to support effective policing, enabling the police to intervene and disrupt. We are working with community groups to ensure that this power is exercised proportionately and fairly, and raises community confidence.
Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. The figures show that black people are almost eight times more likely to be stopped than people from white communities. Furthermore, stop and searches under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act have trebled in the past year. The situation in relation to ethnic minorities is disturbing. Does the Minister agree that action must be taken to curb this unacceptable trend and that the police must exercise their powers with care and caution?
Lord Brett: My Lords, the noble Lord asked two questions. On disproportionality, we are not happy with the figures that have been produced. We are working to improve them, the key to which, and indeed to effective policing, is community support. We have therefore put in place a package of measures as part of the police pledge to treat everyone fairly and with dignity. A new form of trial known as POP—problem oriented policing—has been used in Staffordshire which we hope to extend. On the noble Lord’s second point about the number of people who have been stopped under the Terrorism Act, those stop and searches are for reasons which are well understood, not least what my briefing calls euphemistically “the incident” in Haymarket in 2007.