Huge rise in Staffordshire Police stop and searches
THOUSANDS more residents suspected of being burglars or car thieves are being stopped and searched by police.
Staffordshire Police have increased the number of people subjected to 'stop and search' measures by more than 70 per cent in a year.
Senior officers say it is part of a bid to drive down ' serious acquisitive crimes' such as burglary, robbery and car theft.
In July alone, 2,000 people were stopped and searched by police officers – compared to just over 1,000 in the same month last year.
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Black and minority ethnic group residents in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent were twice as likely to be stopped than white people.
New figures show officers stopped and searched 22,631 people between October last year and September.
That compares to a total of 13,223 people a year earlier.
The force recorded 4,144 of the 'serious acquisitive' crimes between April and September last year.
Reports have now fallen, but only marginally to 4,024 over the same six-month period this year.
Jim Gibson, chairman of the Chell Health residents' association, a victim of two burglaries in recent years, said: "If it cuts down on burglaries then it has to be a good thing, but there may come a time when people start to say their rights are being infringed.
"When you come home after a burglary it is absolutely devastating. Anything that can stop that happening I would support.
"The police are very good at coming up with statistics. If they can show that this is working then it is something I would be in favour of."
Critics have questioned why the number of black and minority ethnic group residents being searched is still much higher than white people.
The level of 'disproportionality' has remained at the same level for the last two years.
A total of 2,142 black or ethnic minority residents have been stopped and searched over the last year, compared to 1,383 a year earlier.
Angela Glendenning, of Newcastle, a former trustee of the defunct North Staffordshire Race Equality Council, said: "This was a big issue in central London in the 1960s and it has been recurrent ever since.
"I'm very dismayed that it is still happening. It's unjust and it leads to very negative outcomes.
"There are also other high profile cases where, for instance, a footballer or a politician driving a decent car will be stopped just on the police officers' assumption that someone like them shouldn't be driving it.
"I think it's a question of when will we ever learn."
Nationally, figures show that in some areas black and minority groups are up to 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched.
Police today said their increased use of the powers is part of wider plans to cut crimes across the county and city.
Chief Constable Mike Cunningham, above left, added: "The increase is a result of using targeted intelligence-led stop and search to reduce serious acquisitive crime."