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Police Stop and Search

Women and Equality – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 18th March 2010.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 10:30 am, 18th March 2010

What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for the Home Department on use by police of stop-and-search powers in relation to black and Asian youths.

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (also in Government Equalities Office), Minister of State (Government Equalities Office) (also in the Ministry of Justice)

The Minister for Women and Equality has had no direct discussions with the Home Secretary on this issue. The Government are committed to delivering a policing service, and a wider criminal justice system, that promote equality and do not discriminate against anyone on the grounds of their race. The National Policing Improvement Agency is working to reduce unjustified disproportionality in stop and search by police forces. Tackling that will increase community confidence in stop and search as a useful tool with which police can keep the community safe.

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Photo of Keith Vaz Keith Vaz Chair, Home Affairs Committee, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Will the Minister join me in welcoming the report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission? We have heard some comments about the commission, but here is a very good report into the problems with stop and search. We cannot go on with this disproportionality. What are we going to do about it?

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Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (also in Government Equalities Office), Minister of State (Government Equalities Office) (also in the Ministry of Justice)

I join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the EHRC report on the disproportionality of stop-and-search powers and their use by police forces. It shows that people are six times more likely to be stopped and searched if they are black, and twice as likely if they are Asian, and that there are inexplicable differences between different police forces and persistent ratios across time in particular areas. It is important that police forces look carefully at how they use their powers, and that they use them to protect the public rather than inadvertently to undermine the confidence of the public. The work of the NPIA will be key to ensuring that that happens.

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