Police Custody: Ethnic Groups

Home Office written question – answered at on 29 November 2022.

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Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the statistics published by her Department entitled Police Powers and Procedures, published on 17 November 2022, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her Department's policies of the proportion of (a) black and black British adults, (b) Asian and Asian British adults and (c) adults of other ethnic backgrounds classed as vulnerable who were detained in police custody.

Photo of Janet Daby Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent discussions she has had with the Policing Data Requirement Group on making the collection of data on police custody mandatory.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

The collection and publication of data on police custody will bring additional transparency and accountability to custody in England and Wales and help us better understand how and why police powers and procedures are used within the custody process. The Home Office only received data from a subset of forces so the findings should be interpreted with caution as it is partial and not representative of the national picture. We will work with police forces and the NPCC to improve data quality in the future and use the data published on 17 November to inform conversations with the police and other stakeholders to promote wider policy development.

The police custody data collection became mandatory for 2022/23. From April 2023, Home Office will request data from forces and then assess the quality of the data which will help inform future decisions made by the Policing Data Requirement Group (PDRG) as to whether the collection remains mandatory. All data collections are reviewed each year by the PDRG to ensure that data requested from the police is proportionate to the need for the data and that forces have the technical capabilities to provide the data requested.

There is a formal definition of vulnerability which police officers are expected to use to determine vulnerability of adults in police custody. It is set out in paragraph 1.13 (d) of Code C to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). Custody officers should therefore carry out vulnerability assessments of everyone in custody in line with this definition.

Section 3.15 of PACE Code C requires the custody officer to secure an appropriate adult for any vulnerable adult detained in police custody.

Strip search is an important policing tool that can help the police recover concealed drugs, weapons or other items which may cause harm to themselves or the person being searched. Strip search is one of the most intrusive powers available to the police and its use must be fair, respectful and without unlawful discrimination. No one should be strip searched based on any protected characteristics including race, sex, and age. Any use of strip search should be carried out in accordance with the law and with full regard for the welfare and dignity of the individual being searched, particularly if that individual is a child.

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