CONCERN has been raised about the number of stop and searches South Yorkshire Police officers have carried out on people from minority and ethnic communities.
The criticism came from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Independent Ethics Panel (IEP) in its annual report.
Despite a dramatic reduction in the number of stop and searches carried out in South Yorkshire — from 22,000 in 2013 to 2,580 in 2016 — a higher proportion were carried out last year on minority and ethnic communities than the previous year.
But the report said the chances of further action (arrests, summons or penalty notice) after the stop and search “was about the same for all communities”.
Andrew Lockley, chairman of the IEP, said: “Statistics show that a significantly higher proportion of searches have been of people from ethnic minorities.
“In 2016 in South Yorkshire, black, Asian and other visible ethnic minority citizens were 3.4 times more likely to be stopped and searched, (an increase from 2.3 in 2015).
“The chances of a further action outcome, however, were about the same for all ethnicities.
“There is clearly further work to be done to understand what is happening here.”
The proportion of stop and searches resulting , which the panel said suggested the power to stop and search was being better targeted.
Mr Lockley said: “The IEP believes that the increase in the proportion of further action cases on a much reduced number of searches should be seen as a success.
“It suggests that the power to stop and search is being better targeted.
“If so, this is a more effective use of police time, and also reduces the damage to relations with the public which follows from searches carried out without good reason.”
The IEP was established in 2015 by the South Yorkshire PCC, Dr Alan Billings, to increase public trust and confidence in police work.
The panel is made up of five independent members who have experience in a number of different sectors including social housing, legal and education.
The latest annual IEP report covers the period between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017.
The use of tasers was also reviewed and showed last year South Yorkshire Police officers took out their tasers on 102 occasions, which is below the national average, and fired them on 34 per cent of occasions.
A sub-group of the IEP has also looked at the ethical issues around the introduction of body-worn video by officers.
The group identified five ethical issues where guidance and training would need to be prepared before body-worn video could be introduced, including when to record and consent of those being filmed.
The panel also praised the force for its “willingness to be open”.
Mr Lockley added: “Despite the legacy issues that face the force, and the burden carried by those past events, the force that we are working with today is unrecognisable from the headlines generated by investigations into past failures.
“Specifically we do not recognise the description used by one politician during the heat of the Hillsborough Inquests’ verdict, of a force ‘rotten to the core’.
“We see a force that is willing to be self-critical and that welcomes outside scrutiny.”
The IEP will now undertake a project looking at culture within the SYP workforce.