The Guardian reports on the publication yesterday by Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) of experimental analysis on race disproportionality in the use of stop and search powers at UK bordersand examinations under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT 2000).
Following on from a FOI request to the Home Office on ethnicity and Schedule 7 stops at airports and published data for stops at all ports, the ECHR briefing paper estimates the extent to which race disproportionality exists in the practice of the powers.
The Code of Practice on the use of Schedule 7 states that examining officers must 'ensure that the selection of persons for examination is not solely based on their perceived ethnic background'.
Using the race disproportionality ratio (RDR) and data from the 2011 Census, National Travel Survey, Civil Aviation Authority's Passenger Survey and the International Passenger Survey, the report demonstrates the incidence of race disproportionality.
The reports shows a fall in stop and search under Schedule 7 examinations rom 65,684 in 2010-11 to a total of 56,257 in 2012-13. In 2010/11, 28,099 or 42.8 per cent of examinations took place at airports. The great majority of examinations were under the hour.
Although in 2012/13 the percentages of examinations of white people (37.2 per cent) and of Asian/Asian British people (23.5 per cent) were lower than in previous years, the main increase was in the percentage of people who did not define their ethnicity at the time of search. The percentage of people with ethnicity 'not stated' was four times larger in 2012/13 than in 2011/12 (8.5 per cent compared with 1.9 per cent). The lower percentages may therefore be due to under-reporting rather than genuine decreases.
According to the report:
Total examinations in all ports and airports of Asians or 'other' ethnic minorities during the period of analysis was 46.6%. In comparison, 63.5% of total examinations at airports alone were on Asians and 'other' ethnic minorities. Moreover, 65.2% per cent of over the hour examinations and detentions at all ports and airports were of Asians or other ethnic minorities.
An analysis of race disproportionality suggests that Asians or individuals of 'other' ethnic group are 11.3 times more likely than white people to be stopped and questioned. Blacks were 6.3 times more likely and mixed race 3.6 times more likely to be stopped and questioned.
The report also examines airport data for 2010-11 considering race disproportionality for nine ethnic categories in comparison to white ethnicity. It suggests that Pakistani, African and 'other' ethnic groups experienced the highest number of over an hour examinations and detentions.
Pakistanis were 135.9 and 154.5 times more likely to being questioned for more than one hour and in detention respectively.
Mark Hammond, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said, "This research suggests there may be an imbalance in the use of Schedule 7 against ethnic minorities. We are also concerned by the fact that people can be detained for lengthy periods without the reasonable suspicion required for other stop and search powers.
"We have highlighted these concerns to government and will continue to work closely with them, parliamentarians and the police to address these issues."
The EHRC report follows the joint committee on human rights' criticism of the 'intrusive' powers of Schedule 7. The JCHR urged a limitation on the use of the powers by introducing a 'reasonable suspicion' condition, and better methods of data collection to record self-declared religious identity of individuals stopped and searched at ports and airports.
The EHRC released a report last month demonstrating that black and Asian people are similarly more likely to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales.
The experimental analysis on Schedule 7 can be found here.