Black people in Merseyside more than three times as likely to be arrested as white people

Home Office figures for 2020-21 show a black person was 3.2 times more likely to be arrested by Merseyside Police than a white person.

Black people in Merseyside are over three times more likely to be arrested than white people, new figures show.

Civil lobbying charity Liberty, which campaigns for justice and equality, accused the police of acting unjustly towards ethnic minorities and called on the Government to reduce police powers.

Home Office figures show 539 arrests of black people were made in Merseyside in 2020-21.

This equated to an estimated 37 arrests per 1,000 black people in the area, based on population figures from the 2011 census.

In contrast, there were just 11.5 arrests per 1,000 white people, meaning a black person was 3.2 times more likely to be arrested. The national rate was 3.3 times more likely.

In Merseyside, arrest rates were down from 2019-20 – before the coronavirus pandemic led to a fall in overall crime – when 39.5 arrests per 1,000 black people and 12.6 per 1,000 white people were made.

Action and reaction from Merseyside Police

Merseyside Police Chief Constable Serena Kennedy has pledged that black communities in Merseyside will be involved and represented in policing and not ‘under protected or over policed’.

Speaking following the launch of The National Police Race Action Plan last month she said: “We know that policing, like society, is not free of racial discrimination, bias and disproportionality.

Chief Constable Serena Kennedy speaking at a media conference.Chief Constable Serena Kennedy speaking at a media conference.
Chief Constable Serena Kennedy speaking at a media conference.

“It still exists in some policies and processes, and we are taking action to change this. We collectively want to improve, we want to progress, we want to be better.

“We will take a zero-tolerence approach to racism in policing.”

In Merseyside there has already been a seven year plan (2018-2025) named the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Strategy in place.

Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily SpurrellMerseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell
Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell

Last year 21 new Black officers joined Merseyside Police, 1% of the total number of 2,074 new recruits.

National statistics

Across England and Wales, black people were 3.3 times more likely to be arrested than white people in 2020-21.

Emmanuelle Andrews, policy and campaigns manager at Liberty, said the figures "highlight the injustices that black communities face across the criminal justice system".

Ms Andrews said: "The police should not be handed more powers, and their existing ones must be rolled back."

But the Home Office says "more is being done in policing than ever before to ensure everyone is treated fairly and without prejudice".

A spokesperson added: "We now have the most diverse police force in history and have extensive safeguards in place to hold the police accountable."

Dorset Police had the largest disparity in arrest rates, with black people nearly 11 times more likely to be arrested, while North Yorkshire had the lowest – though a black person was still twice as likely to be arrested.

Habib Kadiri, research and policy manager at StopWatch, an anti stop and search charity, said the racial disparity in arrests is "symptomatic of an attitude that excuses the disproportionate targeting of black people under the guise that they are more likely to be involved in violence and drug crime".

Stop and search rates

Mr Kadiri also raised concerns regarding racial disparity in stop and search rates.

"The persistent racial disparity in stop and searches demonstrates the degree to which the misuse of frontline policing powers is institutionalised," he added.

Home Office figures show there were 52.6 stop and searches for every 1,000 black people across England and Wales in 2020-21.

This is compared to just 7.5 per 1,000 white people, meaning a black person is more than seven times more likely to be stopped.

In Merseyside, 61.0 stop and searches per 1,000 black people were carried out, compared to 30.5 per 1,000 white people. Meaning a black person is twice as likely to be stopped.

Chief Constable Kennedy said: “Stop and Search is a crucial policing power which has allowed us to tackle and prevent serious and organised crime - seizing weapons, drugs, and arresting those who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

“Of course, it can only be a crucial policing power if it is used fairly and properly.”

She added that the most recent data shows that black people are 1.5 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched in Merseyside.

Meanwhile, the region’s force used Section 60 search powers more times than any other force in the country.

The Home Office recently announced it is lifting restrictions on Section 60 searches, which allow police to search people without reasonable grounds if serious violence is expected.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Every knife taken off our streets is a potential life saved, with 16,000 dangerous weapons removed from the streets and almost 81,000 arrests made last year because of stop and search.

"No one should be stopped because of their race, but tragically data shows that young black men are disproportionately more likely to be the victims of knife crime."