BAME Communities: Stop and Search — [Albert Owen in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:44 am on 23rd May 2018.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley 9:44 am, 23rd May 2018

It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Owen. I congratulate my constituency neighbour, Naz Shah, on securing the debate. It may not surprise her or you to hear that I disagree with virtually everything she said. I will explain why.

This debate is about the effect of police stop-and-search on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. I believe that the recent changes in the culture on stop-and-search are very much hurting parts of those communities, and it is not on. They are suffering not from the overuse of stop-and-search, as the hon. Lady would contend, but from the potential underuse of it.

I appreciate that some people will look just at the headline facts, take the consensus view and then want to be seen to be doing something to solve the problem they have identified. I wish, not just on this issue but on many others, that we in Parliament would look more closely at the evidence; we are not here to represent the loudest voice of the day. Apart from that being sensible in itself, if the problem identified is the wrong problem, doing something to fix it could actually be more harmful than helpful, despite people’s very best intentions.

It cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that young people are dying on our streets at a frightening rate, particularly in London. If we look beyond the statistics to the real lives being lost, they are predominantly not white. I am no fan of dividing people up by the colour of their skin—in fact, I often think that the people who see everything in terms of race are the real racists—so all such references in my speech are simply to reflect that that is the way in which the debate is framed.

Extreme violence is one of the real problems facing us, and by and large it is non-white people who are the victims in these murders. The 2016 statistics on race and the criminal justice system show that, in the three-year period from 2013 to 2016, the rate of homicide was four times higher for black victims, at 32 victims per million people, compared with white victims at eight per million and other victims at seven per million. Therefore, when it comes to the most serious offence of all—murder—it is clear that black people, and in particular black males, are far more likely to be victims. They are also more likely to be murderers.

Following a parliamentary question I asked in 2016, I was given the following information about the ethnicity of murderers. While white people made up 87% of the population, they were responsible for 67% of murders. Black people made up 3% of the population but 14.5% of murders. Asian people were 6% of the population but were responsible for 12% of murders, and mixed race people were 2% of the population but responsible for 5.5% of murders.

It is also a fact that black people are more likely to use a knife or a sharp instrument to kill. According to the 2016 statistics on race and the criminal justice system, for victims from the black ethnic group sharp instruments accounted for nearly two thirds of homicides, but they accounted for only one third of white homicides. Cressida Dick said last year that young black men and boys were statistically more likely to be the victims and perpetrators of knife crime, having made up 21 of 24 teenagers murdered at that point that year.

That is the background and those are the facts. I am not sure anybody disputes them, because they are the official facts. If no crimes were taking place, we would not need stop-and-search, but in the real world there is crime, and it is a serious problem. The use of stop-and-search is just one way to fight against crime and one tool to try to prevent it, but it is a very important tool.