Stop and search

Protected characteristic: 

Stop and search *

Following a study on stop and search in the Ipswich area, commissioned by Suffolk Police, the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality recommended the establishment of a Community Group to study stop and search forms and to feedback to the police. For several years ISCRE received funding by Suffolk Police to facilitate the Stop and Search Reference Group, which comprised about 20 people including a high number of young black men, the group most affected by police stop and search.

In August 2010 ISCRE was notified by Suffolk Police that funding for this project was terminated, citing public sector cuts as the justification. The police would monitor stop and search through an internal Police Authority Group. Aware of the duties of the police under s.71 of the Race Relations Act, ISCRE asked for a copy of the equality impact assessment of this decision; none was provided. The Stop and Search Reference Group then decided to try to bring a legal challenge to this decision.

When the police received a letter before claim on behalf of one of the members of the Group they conceded that they had not done an equality impact assessment and agreed to undertake a full consultation. Many local people indicated their support for this project. The Suffolk Police then carried out a full equality impact assessment of their decision. Following this they agreed a satisfactory basis for funding which has enabled the Stop and Search Reference Group to continue with slightly altered terms of reference.

The ISCRE had a service level agreement (SLA) wih HMP Warren Hill YOI to provide various services to its BME prisoners. HMP Warren Hill YOI has a large proportion of BME prisoners (63%) and few, if any, BME staff. The Community Diversity Officer (CDO) who visited the prison under the SLA provided a positive black male role model and was someone the prisoners could relate to. BME prisoners could raise concerns with him about discrimination in the prison, and he was able to help the young offenders reintegrate themselves into society.

The prison informed ISCRE that it intended to terminate the SLA. Before his decision the prison had failed to consult with ISCRE. It failed to provide sufficient reasons for its decision, or any proof that it had completed an equality impact assessment before making the decision. ISCRE believed that the services it was providing to young BME offenders were valuable and decided, after legal advice, to challenge this decision.

A letter before claim was sent to the prison alleging failure to comply with s.149 Equality Act 2010. Following receipt of the letter before claim the prison agreed to continue funding the SLA.

 

* Source: Submission to the Review of the Public Sector Equality Duty, Call for Evidence[April 2013] : Discrimination Law Association