Number of arrests
The main facts and figures show that:
a total of 896,209 arrests were carried out 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
ethnic minority groups in general were over one and a half times more likely to be arrested than White people
Black women are more than twice as likely to be arrested than White women
wide variations in the rates of arrest of ethnic minorities around the UK in part reflect the different ethnic makeup of different areas
Things you need to know
When looking at arrest rates by area, it’s important to note that a person arrested in a particular area will not necessarily live in that area. Estimates of total population in a particular area 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 the person’s ethnicity was not identified, or unknown, these cases have been classed as 'unreported' and are not counted in the figures for proportion of arrests by ethnicity.
After a change in their collection process, Cambridgeshire were unable to provide detailed 16+1 ethnicity data for 2015/16, and Humberside could not provide detailed 16+1 data for 2014/15.
Some forces (Norfolk, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Wiltshire) were unable to provide complete data for 2015/16 due to the changes in the data collection process.
Arrests broken down by the 5 broad ethnic categories for these forces are therefore estimates, and data for the more detailed 16 ethnic categories (see Ethnicity definitions) is not available.
Due to the small number of people living in the City of London compared to the numbers who visit, the area has been excluded from the analysis.
What the data measures
This data measures the number of people arrested for notifiable offences (offences for which the police must inform the Home Office by completing a crime report form).
Data is sourced from the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The data relates to the 'arrest rate' for the UK's different ethnic groups in different areas. It compares the number of people arrested from a particular ethnic group with the total number of people from that ethnic group living in the area.
Population by ethnicity is taken from the 2011 Census population.
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 2001 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
|Unknown||N/A *||23,936||N/A *||47,107|
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 have fallen for all groups except for those in the Chinese or Other ethnic group; however, for White people they have fallen by 10%, and for ethnic minorities they have fallen by 1%
in 2016, 78% of those arrested where ethnicity was reported, were White, 10% Black or Black British and 7% Asian or Asian British
Number of arrests by ethnicity and area
Number of arrests by ethnicity and 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 an ethnic minority background (the lowest rate)
in London, 51% of people arrested were from an ethnic minority background (the highest rate)
differences in the rate of ethnic minority arrests around the UK are likely, in part, to reflect the different ethnic makeup of those areas (with many more people from an ethnic minority living in London than in Wales, for example)
Number of arrests by ethnicity and gender
Arrests per 1,000 by ethnicity and gender, in England and Wales, 2015/16
|Unknown||N/A *||47,107||N/A *||7,571||N/A *||39,536|
This data shows that:
in 2015/16, 15% of all women arrested in England and Wales were from an ethnic minority, compared with 23% of all men arrested, a figure consistent with recent years
of the total number of people from ethnic minority groups arrested in 2015/16, 12% were women
of the total number of White people arrested in 2015/16, 17% were women
Black men are almost three and a half times more likely to be arrested than White men
Black women are 2.3 times more likely to be arrested than White women
Methodology and type of data
Type of data
Purpose of data source
This data is an Annual Data Requirement (ADR). This means 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.
Data on arrests is collected by statisticians in Crime and Policing Analysis.
Data presented here relates to the police power of arrest. In line with police recorded crime statistics, this data covers arrests for all notifiable offences carried out by police in England and Wales. (A notifiable offence is a crime which the police must inform the Home Office about by completing a crime report form.)
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 one or more notifiable offences on the same occasion, the offence with the highest maximum penalty is recorded.
Further technical information
Data recording - Under the code of practice for the Statutory Powers of arrest, arresting officers are required to record details of an arrest at the time of arrest, or as soon as possible. -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. - Forces use arrest records to inform custody records which are used for a number of administrative purposes, including processing arrestees and monitoring performance. It is essential for forces’ operational needs that they keep these records up to date. - Police forces have their own internal auditing methods to ensure the data are accurate and up to date before sending data to the Home Office. Custody Sergeants are also employed in police stations to ensure that those brought into custody are processed in line with the code of practice. - The self-defined ethnicity of the person arrested is recorded according to the ethnicity stated by the arrestee at the time of arrest. -For some forces, an arrest will only be recorded if an individual is taken to a custody suite and a custody record is created
Quality assurance - Forces’ use and recording of arrests are monitored by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC). HMIC carries out regular inspections and produce reports on the inspections. - The Home Office statisticians undertake quality assurance checks which include looking for missing/incomplete data, inconsistencies in the data, 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 are then confirmed by forces during a data reconciliation to confirm they are content for the figures to be published.
Data source details
Type of statistic
Ethnicity of individuals arrested are collected on 16+1 self-defined ethnicity codes. A small proportion of individuals did not state their ethnicity these are recorded as 'unreported' in the data. For each financial year the proportion (%) of total arrests in the year that recorded with an ethnicity was ‘not stated’ are:
2006/07 – 7%
2007/08 – 4%
2008/09 – 2%
2009/10 – 2%
2010/11 – 2%
2011/12 – 2%
2012/13 – 2%
2013/14 – 2%
2014/15 – 3%
2015/16 – 5%