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Crime, policing and stop and search: Black perspectives in context

Insights Report


Report authors: Amber Evans, Strategy and Insight Manager | Patrick Olajide, Analyst | Jon Clements, Executive Director of Development

Tuesday 8 November 2022

REPORT 3 (recommendations): Stop and search: a plan for change

Crest Advisory have released findings from one of the largest polls of its kind showing support for the principle of stop and search - but significant concern about how the police use it in practice, particularly among Black people and those of a Mixed ethnic background.

The research, funded by the Hadley Trust, included a poll of 5,455 adults (2,537 White, 1,548 Black, 1,055 Mixed ethnicity, 245 Asian) in England and Wales plus eight focus groups [1].

The report outlines five key findings:

  1. Black people are more worried about crime than the general population

  2. Black people’s trust and confidence in the police is lower than the general population, particularly Black Caribbean communities, and may be declining across generations

  3. Most people (of all ethnicities) support police having the right to use stop and search as a police tactic, but there are concerns about how it is used in practice

  4. Stop and search has a negative and traumatic impact on people, in particular on Black and Mixed-ethnicity adults

  5. Irrespective of ethnicity, many people are concerned about disproportionality in the use of stop and search

The research indicates that a perceived failure to protect Black communities, negative interactions with the police and concerns about the use of stop and search are drivers of Black people’s low trust in the police.

Crest's Chief Executive Harvey Redgrave said:

“The police use of stop and search powers have become a totemic issue in recent years. However, our research suggests that Black people’s concerns about the use of stop and search can’t be viewed in isolation. Instead, their views about how the police do stop and search are closely connected to their experience of local policing overall.

“In our focus groups and polling, Black people expressed as much concern about a perceived failure by the police to get the basics right, such as taking crimes seriously and supporting victims, as they did about stop and search. This sense is evident across all ethnicities but is particularly prominent in Black Caribbean communities,” he said.

The detailed results of the survey showed that:

  • 86 per cent of adults support police having the right to stop and search someone if suspected of having a weapon on them, with 81 per cent support for searching someone suspected of having Class A drugs

  • 77 per cent of Black adults supported police having the right to stop and search to find weapons, and 71 percent to find Class A drugs

  • 45 per cent of adults who had been stopped and searched found the experience traumatising, rising to 52 per cent of Black adults

  • 32 per cent of adults who had been stopped and searched felt the police did not explain their rights to them, rising to 39 per cent of Black adults

Other key findings on how Black people view crime and policing generally include:

  • 75 per cent of Black adults were concerned about crime, compared to 62 per cent of White adults

  • Only 46 percent of Black adults trusted the police, compared to 64 per cent of White adults vs 62 per cent of the general population

  • Trust in the police was considerably higher among Black African adults (51 per cent) than Black Caribbean adults (35 per cent)

  • 72 per cent of Black adults agree that the police do not treat people from ethnic minority backgrounds the same as White, British people, compared to 36 per cent of White adults.

  • Despite this, 66 per cent of Black adults agreed the police had a hard job but wanted them to do it well

  • But 69 per cent of Black adults believe they do not get the service or protection they need from the police

Redgrave continued:

“While there is clear support for the use of stop and search in principle, including among Black people, the police can not take this as a blank cheque - this support is dependent on stops being conducted fairly, effectively and proportionately. Currently this is not reflected in Black people’s experience.”

“It is clear from our research that trust is the key. There are opportunities which could be grasped quickly if police strengthened relationships with communities, listened closely to their concerns and worked with them to tackle problems together.”

The report is the first of three from the project Stop and Search: The Evidence which sets out findings on adult perceptions of crime, policing, and stop and search.

The next report, which focuses on children, will be published later in November, with the final report, containing specific recommendations, released in December.



[1] Focus groups took place in four locations in England: Hackney, Croydon, Leeds, and Radlett


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