Cleveland Police use stop and search powers more than 6,000 times
Police officers in the Hartlepool and wider Cleveland area conducted thousands more stop and searches last year, new figures show.
Home Office data shows Cleveland Police officers used the powers 6,350 times in the year to March – well up from the 2,063 the year before.
That was in line with forces nationally – but the proportion leading to an arrest fell from 18% to 13% over this period.
In the Cleveland force area, 63% of stop and searches were for drugs – up from 52% in 2019-20.
Nationally, the number of stop and searches rose from 577,000 in 2019-20 to 704,000 in 2020-21 – almost 2,000 a day – but the arrest rate fell from 13% to 11% – the lowest level since 2012-13.
StopWatych UK – which represents a range of civil society organisations, human rights groups, academics and campaigners – claims the majority of searches cause more problems than they solve.
Dr Laura Garius, policy lead for Release, which comprises experts on drug laws, said black and other ethnic minority individuals are being disproportionately targeted, despite drug use being no higher among these groups than among the white population.
She added: "The declining find and arrest rates are further proof that these powers are over-used, ineffective, and harmful to black and brown communities.”
The Home Office said police used extra officers and resources to tackle drug crime during the coronavirus lockdown and also removed almost 16,000 dangerous weapons from our streets.
A spokesman added: “No one should be targeted for stop and search because of their race and there are extensive safeguards in place to prevent this.”