Stop and search

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • between April 2019 and March 2020, there were 563,837 stop and searches in England and Wales (excluding vehicle searches)
  • there were 11 stop and searches for every 1,000 people, down from 25 per 1,000 people in the year ending March 2010
  • there were 6 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 54 for every 1,000 Black people
  • stop and search rates have fallen for every ethnic group since 2009
  • almost half of all stop and searches took place in the Metropolitan Police force area in London
  • there were 34 stop and searches for every 1,000 people in London, the highest rate out of all police force areas
  • London had the highest stop and search rates for all ethnic groups except for the Other ethnic group (where it was highest in Kent) and the White ethnic group (Merseyside)

2. Things you need to know

What the data measures

The data shows:

  • the number of stop and searches for different ethnic groups in England and Wales
  • how many stop and searches there were for every 1,000 people in each ethnic group (the ‘rate’)

Stop and search rates are given to the nearest whole number.

Unrounded data was used to work out stop and search rates and differences between ethnic groups

Not included in the data

The data does not include:

  • vehicle searches because ethnicity information is not collected during these searches.
  • stop and search figures for Greater Manchester Police, because they were unable to provide complete data for the most recent year – download the data for numbers of stop and searches in Greater Manchester

The ethnic groups used in the data

The data for April 2019 to March 2020 uses the 18 ethnic groups from the 2011 Census.

Data from April 2009 to March 2019 uses the 16 ethnic groups from the 2001 Census.

Due to the different ethnic group categories used in the most recent year of data, they are not comparable to previous years. This means the time series data only includes the years from April 2009 to March 2019.

If someone does not give their ethnicity, it is recorded as ‘unreported’. Stop and searches with unreported ethnicity are included in the rate for ‘All’ ethnic groups.

In the 11 years to March 2020, the percentage of stop and searches with unreported ethnicity went up from 5% to 17%.

Methodology

Read the detailed methodology document for this data.

Someone who is stopped and searched is usually asked for their ethnicity. The circumstances of a stop and search may affect the accuracy of this information.

This can be seen by the high rate of stop and searches for the ‘Other’ categories within most ethnic groups. For example, 44% of stop and searches of Black people in the year ending March 2020 were assigned to the Black Other ethnic group. The percentage for the Asian Other ethnic group is similarly high (40%).

Population data from the 2011 Census is used to work out the rate per 1,000 people in each area. Read more about the problems using Census data.

Stop and searches are not spread evenly across England and Wales. For example, the Metropolitan Police made 80% of all searches of Black people in the year ending March 2020. National rates are influenced by the higher number of stop and searches involving certain ethnic groups and the differences in populations in certain police force areas.

National rates are an average of all police force areas, and may not reflect the rates in any individual police force areas.

For these reasons, we no longer compare ethnic groups using relative likelihoods (such as ‘5 times as likely’) for England and Wales as a whole.

Greater Manchester Police were unable to provide complete data in the year ending March 2020. Their partial data is included here and in the national figures. Due to this, some rates may not match the source publication.

In the data file

See Download the data for:

  • the number of stop and searches by ethnicity and police force area
  • stop and search rates rounded to 2 decimal places
  • the number of stop and searches with unreported ethnicity
  • stop and search data for the years April 2006 to March 2009
  • stop and search data for Greater Manchester
  • the number of stop and searches by legislation over time

3. By ethnicity

Stop and search rate per 1,000 people, and number of stop and search incidents, by ethnicity
Ethnicity Stop and search rate per 1,000 people Number of stop and searches
All 11 563,837
Asian 15 60,575
Bangladeshi 29 12,118
Chinese 2 635
Indian 5 7,060
Pakistani 16 16,331
Asian other 30 24,431
Black 54 96,905
Black African 34 32,242
Black Caribbean 39 22,461
Black other 157 42,202
Mixed 16 18,369
Mixed White/Asian 5 1,703
Mixed White/Black African 13 2,036
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 16 6,475
Mixed other 29 8,155
White 6 280,661
White British 5 229,876
White Irish 7 3,637
White Gypsy/Traveller 3 194
White other 19 46,954
Other 18 9,552
Arab 1 130
Any other 29 9,422
Unknown N/A* 97,775

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that:

  • there were 563,837 stop and searches in England and Wales between April 2019 and March 2020, a rate of 11 per 1,000 people
  • there were 6 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 54 for every 1,000 Black people
  • there were 16 stop and searches per 1,000 people with Mixed ethnicity, and 15 per 1,000 Asian people
  • the 3 Black ethnic groups had the highest rates of stop and search out of all 18 individual ethnic groups
  • the Black Other group had the highest rate overall with 157 stop and searches per 1,000 people – this group includes people who did not identify as Black African or Black Caribbean, or were not recorded as such

4. By ethnicity over time

Stop and search rate per 1,000 people, by ethnicity over time
Ethnicity 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19
Rate per 1,000 Rate per 1,000 Rate per 1,000 Rate per 1,000 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 25 23 21 18 16 10 7 6 5 7
Asian 40 38 33 25 20 11 10 8 8 11
Bangladeshi 75 69 59 39 32 17 17 13 14 23
Indian 25 21 17 12 9 5 4 3 3 4
Pakistani 40 38 35 29 23 14 11 8 8 11
Asian other 49 49 45 34 28 16 14 13 13 19
Black 120 115 98 67 56 35 33 31 30 39
Black African 74 72 62 42 35 22 21 19 19 25
Black Caribbean 155 141 113 75 60 36 32 29 27 32
Black other 206 211 193 140 121 77 74 74 76 104
Mixed 35 31 29 24 20 13 11 9 9 11
Mixed White/Asian 13 10 9 7 7 4 3 3 3 4
Mixed White/Black African 28 24 22 17 16 10 9 7 8 10
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 49 45 39 32 27 17 13 11 11 12
Mixed other 45 40 43 35 28 18 16 14 15 19
White 19 17 16 15 13 8 5 4 3 4
White British 17 16 15 14 13 7 4 3 3 4
White Irish 20 19 19 16 14 8 7 5 4 6
White other 42 37 36 32 28 17 14 11 9 12
Other including Chinese 22 20 17 13 13 8 6 5 5 7
Chinese 13 8 6 5 6 4 2 1 1 1
Any other 28 28 24 19 17 11 9 7 8 11

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity over time’ (CSV)

Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity over time Summary

The data does not include the year to March 2020 (the most recent period). This is because different ethnic group categories were used, meaning data is not comparable with previous years. The data does not include stop and searches by Greater Manchester Police in any year.

The data shows that, in the 2 years to March 2019:

  • the national stop and search rate went up for the first time since 2009 to 2010, from 5 to 7 stop and searches per 1,000 people
  • rates went up in every ethnic group except the Chinese group, where they stayed broadly the same

Between April 2009 and March 2019:

  • the national rate went down from 25 to 7 per 1,000 people
  • the rate for White people was lower than the national rate in every year
  • the rates for the Asian, Black, and Mixed ethnic groups were higher than the national rate in every year
  • the Chinese and Mixed White and Asian ethnic groups had the lowest rates out of all 16 ethnic groups in most years
  • the Black Caribbean and Black Other groups consistently had the highest rates

5. By ethnicity and area

Stop and search rate per 1,000 people, by ethnicity and area
Police force area All Asian Black Mixed White Other
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 - including BTP and excluding Greater Manchester 11 15 54 16 6 18
Avon & Somerset 5 4 24 8 3 7
Bedfordshire 5 6 10 10 3 4
British Transport Police N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Cambridgeshire 3 3 17 4 2 7
Cheshire 4 2 23 5 3 7
Cleveland 3 4 13 6 3 8
Cumbria 4 4 17 2 4 0
Derbyshire 2 3 7 4 1 0
Devon & Cornwall 3 3 31 4 3 5
Dorset 3 2 48 6 2 5
Durham 3 4 11 4 3 14
Dyfed-Powys 6 6 22 8 6 0
Essex 12 14 47 17 9 9
Gloucestershire 4 3 21 14 3 5
Greater Manchester N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Gwent 5 17 40 15 4 15
Hampshire 5 6 39 9 4 5
Hertfordshire 7 6 24 16 5 16
Humberside 3 4 15 3 3 3
Kent 6 4 36 9 4 43
Lancashire 6 9 19 7 4 7
Leicestershire 4 3 14 4 3 2
Lincolnshire 4 6 34 8 4 10
London, City of N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A* N/A*
Merseyside 25 14 65 24 21 19
Metropolitan Police 34 26 71 24 18 27
Norfolk 6 4 48 10 5 13
North Wales 7 5 13 8 7 0
North Yorkshire 3 5 14 6 3 5
Northamptonshire 3 4 18 6 3 1
Northumbria 4 5 14 4 4 1
Nottinghamshire 5 6 17 8 3 8
South Wales 10 16 55 18 8 11
South Yorkshire 11 13 22 12 9 9
Staffordshire 5 15 34 13 4 14
Suffolk 5 4 26 12 4 33
Surrey 5 7 34 8 4 6
Sussex 5 5 47 6 4 9
Thames Valley 6 8 17 10 3 4
Warwickshire 3 4 31 7 2 8
West Mercia 4 14 41 8 3 13
West Midlands 8 13 22 20 5 1
West Yorkshire 6 11 15 9 4 5
Wiltshire 2 4 16 4 2 2

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity and area Summary

The data excludes Greater Manchester Police.

The data shows that, in the year ending March 2020:

  • the Metropolitan Police in London made almost half (49%) of all stop and searches in England and Wales
  • there were 34 stop and searches for every 1,000 people in London, compared with 6 per 1,000 people in the rest of England and Wales
  • there were 71 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people in London, compared with 28 per 1,000 Black people in the rest of England and Wales
  • London had the highest rates for all ethnic groups except for the Other ethnic group (where the rate was highest in Kent) and the White ethnic group (Merseyside)
  • Black people in Dorset were stopped and searched at a rate 23 times higher than White people – the biggest relative difference between White people and another ethnic group
  • Black people in West Mercia were stopped and searched at a rate 14 times higher than White people in West Mercia, and 13 times higher in Warwickshire
  • the rate for Asian people was 5 times higher than the rate for White people in West Mercia
  • the rate for people with Mixed ethnicity was 4 times the rate for White people in Gloucestershire, West Midlands and Gwent
  • Derbyshire and Wiltshire had the lowest overall rates

6. By ethnicity and legislation

Numbers and proportion of stop and searches, by legislation and ethnicity
All Section 1 Section 60
Ethnicity All Number All % of stops under this legislation Section 1 Number Section 1 % of stops under this legislation Section 60 Number Section 60 % of stops under this legislation
Asian 60,575 10.7 58,958 10.8 1,617 9.0
Black 96,905 17.2 92,425 16.9 4,480 25.0
Mixed 18,369 3.3 17,778 3.3 591 3.3
White 280,661 49.8 274,265 50.2 6,396 35.7
Other 9,552 1.7 9,202 1.7 350 2.0
Unknown 97,775 17.3 93,282 17.1 4,493 25.1

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and legislation’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and legislation’ (CSV)

Summary of Stop and search By ethnicity and legislation Summary

This data covers stop and search of individuals under the following acts:

  • section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (and associated legislation including section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) – the police can stop and search someone they think is carrying items like stolen property or drugs
  • section 44/47A of the Terrorism Act 2000 – the police can stop and search someone if they suspect an act of terrorism is about to take place (after authorisation by a senior officer)
  • section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 – the police can stop and search someone within an authorised area to prevent violence involving weapons

The data shows that, between April 2019 and March 2020:

  • 97% of all stop and searches in England and Wales were under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act
  • 3% of stop and searches were under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act
  • no stop and searches were conducted under section 44/47A of the Terrorism Act, so data isn’t included in the chart and table
  • there were 17,927 stop and searches under section 60
  • 6,396 section 60 stop and searches involved White people, the highest number out of all ethnic groups for this legislation (35.7% of all section 60 stops)
  • 4,480 section 60 stop and searches involved Black people (25.0% of all section 60 stops)

7. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Home Office

Publication frequency

Yearly

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.

8. Download the data

Stop and search data - Spreadsheet (csv) 3 MB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, year, police force area, legislation type, number of stop and searches, rate of stop and search, proportion of stop and searches, population estimates