Leicestershire stop and search rates cut after criticism

Leicestershire Police says it has more than halved its use of stop and search powers following criticism from a human rights group.

The force signed a formal agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year after it said the powers were being used too often.

The commission had been particularly concerned black and Asian people were being disproportionately targeted.

Now it says the force has fulfilled its commitment to bring down overall rates.

However, it added while it had seen a slight improvement in the rate at which black and Asian people were being stopped, there was still work to be done.

The 18-month agreement was signed last January after the commission found the force was unable to properly justify why it was employing the tactic disproportionately.

At that point the commission said black people in Leicestershire were almost five times more likely to be searched than white people, with Asian people almost twice as likely.

Since then the force said it had reduced its overall use of stop and search by just over 50% by improving training and ensuring the powers were more effectively targeted.

It said an average of 13 people were now stopped and searched across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland each day - nine white, three Asian and one black.

'Effective tool'

In a statement, the commission said it was concluding the formal agreement, having "agreed that Leicestershire Police has delivered all of its commitments".

It said: "The force has halved its use of stops and searches of Asian, black and white people, its stop and search detection rates have gone up and there is not any apparent adverse effect on crime levels.

"While the significant and persistent race differences in stop and search have seen only a small recent reduction, we believe improvements in the way some officers use the power could confirm this is a downward trend."

Leicestershire Police's Assistant Chief Constable, Steph Morgan, said: "We are ensuring searches are targeted in areas where our analysis and the community tell us there are crime hot spots.

"Used in the right way, the tactic can be an effective tool in the fight against crime and at the same time improve community confidence."

The force also said it had commissioned independent research into "disproportionality rates".

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