Number of arrests
The main facts and figures show that:
a total of 896,209 arrests were made in 2015/2016, a fall of 5% on the previous year
Black people were over 3 times more likely to be arrested than White people
Black women were more than twice as likely to be arrested as White women
Things you need to know
Someone arrested in a particular area will not necessarily live in that area. Population estimates are based on permanent residents of that area (not visitors) – so figures that compare the total population with the number of arrests should be treated with caution.
Where someone's ethnicity wasn't identified or known, they have been classed as 'unreported' and are not counted in the arrest rates by ethnicity.
Over the period studied the percentage of people arrested whose ethnicity wasn't known ranges from 2% to 7%.
Due to changes in data collection:
- Cambridgeshire police force were unable to provide detailed ethnicity data for 2015/16
- Humberside police force were unable to provide detailed ethnicity data for 2014/15
- police forces in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Wiltshire were unable to provide complete data for 2015/16
Therefore, arrests broken down by the 5 broad ethnic categories for these forces are estimates, and data for the specific ethnic categories is not available.
Due to the small number of people living in the City of London compared with the numbers who visit, its police force has been excluded from the analysis.
What the data measures
This data measures the number of arrests for 'notifiable offences', broken down by ethnicity, gender and area.
A notifiable offence is one for which the police must complete a crime report.
The arrest rate is calculated as the number of people arrested from a particular ethnic group out of every 1,000 people from the same group.
Data is derived from the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
Population data is taken from the 2011 Census.
The ethnic categories used in this data
While the population estimates in this data are based on the results of the 2011 Census, the ethnic categories used are those listed in the 2001 Census. This is because these ethnic categories are easier to compare with the categories used when recording arrests.
The 16 categories listed in the 2001 Census are broadly the same as those used in the 2011 Census, with the following exceptions:
- the 2001 Census categorised Chinese people within 'Other ethnic group'
- the 2001 Census did not list Gypsy and Irish Travellers or Arab people
The categories are therefore as follows:
- English/ Welsh/ Scottish/ Northern Irish/ British
- Any other White background
Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups:
- White and Black Caribbean
- White and Black African
- White and Asian
- Any other Mixed/Multiple ethnic background
- Any other Asian background
Black/ African/ Caribbean/ Black British:
- Any other Black/ African/ Caribbean background
Other ethnic group:
- Any other ethnic group
Number of arrests by ethnicity
Arrests per 1,000 population by ethnicity
This data shows that:
there were 50,550 fewer arrests in 2015/16 compared to the previous year, a fall of 5%
rates of arrest fell for all groups except for those in the Other ethnic group
rates of arrest for White people fell from 15.25 per 1,000 in 2014/15 to 13.75 per 1,000 in 2015/16
in 2015/16, of people arrested for whom ethnicity was known, 78% were White, 10% were Black, and 7% were Asian
Number of arrests by ethnicity and area
Number of arrests, and arrest rate per 1,000 population, by ethnicity and police force area
|Avon & Somerset||15.58||24,918||16.57||547||56.17||1,737||30.59||865||14.25||21,261||9.88||152|
|Cambridgeshire||13.49||10,854||20.39||806||83.74||852||not collected||not collected||11.87||8,622||38.58||485|
|Devon & Cornwall||9.27||15,459||14.79||173||75.74||311||13.61||213||8.95||14,559||11.30||107|
|London, City of||N/A*||1,775||N/A*||224||N/A*||327||N/A*||94||N/A*||931||N/A*||41|
This data shows that:
in North Wales, 2% of people arrested were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined (the lowest rate)
in London, 51% of people arrested were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined (the highest rate)
differences in the rate of arrests in England and Wales are likely, in part, to reflect population differences in those areas (with many more people from an ethnic minority living in London than in North Wales, for example)
Number of arrests by ethnicity and gender
Number of arrests, and arrest rate per 1,000 population, by ethnicity and gender
This data shows that:
in 2015/16, 15% of all women arrested in England and Wales were from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups combined, compared with 23% of all men arrested
of the total number of people from the Asian, Black, Mixed and Other ethnic groups arrested in 2015/16, 12% were women
of the total number of White people arrested in 2015/16, 17% were women
Black men were almost three and a half times more likely to be arrested than White men, and Black women were over twice as likely to be arrested as White women
A person arrested for a notifiable offence is counted for each occasion on which they are arrested, provided that the offence is not connected or related to an offence for which the person has already been subject to arrest during the year.
If it is connected, or if a person has been arrested for more than one notifiable offences on the same occasion, the offence with the highest maximum penalty is recorded.
Arresting officers are required to record details of an arrest at the time of arrest, or as soon as possible after. A universal code of practice (PACE code G) ensures arrests are standardised across forces, both in terms of the processes involved, and the data recorded.
The person arrested states their ethnicity at the time of arrest.
Police forces have their own internal auditing methods to ensure that data is accurate and up to date before it's submitted to the Home Office.
Further technical information
Police forces' recording of arrests, and use of the data, are monitored by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). HMIC carries out regular inspections and produce reports on the inspections.
Home Office statisticians undertake quality assurance checks which include looking for missing and incomplete data, inconsistencies in the data, and extreme values.
Trend analyses also look for unusual or unexpected trends in the data. Any inconsistencies or unusual trends are flagged with forces, who are requested to either explain the trends, or resubmit to amend the data.
All data is then confirmed by forces during a data reconciliation before the figures are published.
Type of data
Type of statistic
Purpose of data source
It is mandatory for police forces in England and Wales to provide the Home Office with the number of arrests carried out each financial year by ethnicity.
Arrest records form part of custody records, which in turn are used for a number of administrative purposes, including monitoring performance.