Stop and search
Last updated 14 May 2019 - see all updates
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1. Main facts and figures
- overall, there were 277,378 stop and search incidents in England and Wales in the financial year 2017/18, at a rate of 5 per 1,000 people; down from 23 incidents per 1,000 people in 2009/10
- rates of stop and search have fallen for every ethnic group since 2009/10 – however, they have fallen at different rates for different groups
- in 2017/18, there were 3 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 29 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people
- Black people were 9 and a half times as likely to be stopped and searched as White people in 2017/18; the previous year they were just over 8 times as likely, and in 2014/15 they were just over 4 times as likely
- among specific ethnic groups, the Chinese and Mixed White/Asian groups have consistently had the lowest rates of stop and search since 2009/10
- the Metropolitan Police in London was the police force area with the highest rate of stop and search incidents in 2017/18, with 16 stop and searches for every 1,000 people
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 stop and search.
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 the 'Other’ ethnic group
- the 2001 Census did not include ethnic groups for Gypsy/Roma, Irish Traveller 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
2. By ethnicity
|Ethnicity||Stop and search rate per 1,000 people||Number|
|Mixed White/Black African||7||1,202|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||10||4,326|
|Other including Chinese||5||4,661|
Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity Summary
3. By ethnicity over time
|Mixed White/Black African||28||24||21||17||15||10||8||7||7|
|Mixed White/Black Caribbean||49||44||38||32||27||17||13||11||10|
|Other including Chinese||21||19||16||13||12||8||6||5||5|
Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity over time Summary
4. By ethnicity and area
|Police force area||All||Asian||Black||Mixed||White||Other inc Chinese|
|Rate per 1,000||Rate per 1,000||Rate per 1,000||Rate per 1,000||Rate per 1,000||Rate per 1,000|
|All - includingluding BTP||5||8||29||9||3||5|
|Avon & Somerset||4||3||21||7||3||1|
|British Transport Police||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*|
|Devon & Cornwall||3||4||24||3||2||3|
|London, City of||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*||N/A*|
Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity and area Summary
Stop and search data has been collected from the 43 territorial police forces in England and Wales, and the British Transport Police, since 2009/10.
Under the code of practice for the Statutory Powers of stop and search, officers are required to make a record of the details of a stop and search at the time of the encounter. The person they stop and search can ask for a copy of the record, which reduces the risk of a stop and search going unrecorded.
Some police forces are moving towards electronic recording of stop and search to ensure that data is quickly and accurately transferred to their systems. Other forces still use paper records to record encounters, which are more likely to involve errors, or may not be uploaded into force systems in a timely manner.
The use of stop and search, and its subsequent recording, is monitored by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). HMICFRS carries out regular inspections and produce reports on the inspections. Home Office statisticians also undertake quality assurance checks. Any inconsistencies or unusual trends are flagged with police forces, who are requested to either explain the trends, or resubmit to amend the data. All data is then confirmed by police forces before publication.
Population figures are based on the 2011 Census from the Office for National Statistics, broken down by ethnicity and police force area. Because stop and search data uses the ethnic categories from the 2001 Census, the population data has been recategorised by the Home Office to match the 2001 categories – the main result of this is the Chinese ethnic group is included under the Other broad ethnic group, not the Asian broad ethnic group.
Stop and search rates are given to the nearest whole number. You can see more detailed estimates if you download the data.
6. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Purpose of data source
Figures on stop and search reported to the Home Office are used to create greater transparency in the use of stop and search in England and Wales. They enhance accountability by enabling the public to monitor police forces at a national and local level.
The data is used to form a national picture of the trends in stop and search. It informs discussions about crime, policing and criminal justice in government and academia, and ensures the public are accurately informed.
7. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, police force area, numerator, denominator, population and rate per 1,000