UK Politics

PM speech: Are fewer black people being stopped and searched?

Police search a group of people Image copyright Getty Images

The claim: Prime Minister Theresa May said that following a speech at the Conservative Party conference in 2014, government action had meant "the number of black people being stopped and searched has fallen by over two-thirds".

Reality Check verdict: The number of black people being stopped and searched by police has fallen by two-thirds since 2010-11 but not since the 2014 conference.

Also, black people still form a disproportionately large percentage of those being stopped and searched and the percentage has actually risen since 2013-14.

As she delivered her keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference, the prime minister reminded Tories of what she sees as a key achievement - a reduction in the number of black people being stopped and searched, but all is not what it seems.

Theresa May spoke about a young black man called Alexander Paul who spoke at the conference in 2014 about his experience of police stop-and-search tactics.

She said: "Inspired by his example, we took action. We shook up the system, and the number of black people being stopped and searched has fallen by over two-thirds."

The overall number of stop-and-searches fell dramatically between 2010-11 and 2015-16, which is the most recent year for which data is available. So, the number of black people being stopped also fell.

This graph shows that the number of black people being stopped fell by two-thirds over the total period, but not since Mr Paul spoke at the conference in 2014.

Disproportionately stopped

But even though far fewer black people are being stopped and searched, they are still more likely to be stopped than any other ethnic group.

When you look at the percentage of those stopped and searched who define themselves as black, little has changed. It was 15.2% in 2010-11, and fell to about 11% in 2013-14. Then it rose, and in 2015-16 was back up to 15.1%.

The 2011 census found that 3.3% of people in England and Wales defined themselves as black - meaning black people are being stopped and searched nearly five times as often as you would expect them to be.

So, while the number of black people being stopped and searched fell, their proportion of the total rose since Mr Paul spoke at the 2014 Conservative party conference.

Just to be clear - these figures don't include stop-and-searches related to terrorism or that are carried out because police are trying to manage an incident that affects public safety - those fall under different legislation and are recorded separately. They would not have significantly changed the data.


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