NORTH Wales Police has said it is working to address any “disproportionality” in its use of stop and searches amidst new figures that showed Black people are nearly four times more likely to be searched in the region.

Home Office data published last week revealed officers in North Wales used stop and search powers 6,201 times in the year to March, up from 5,022 the year before. The report, which used 2011 Census data, showed that Black people were 3.7 times more likely to be stopped, which has risen from three per cent in 2019-20.

Despite this rise in the use of searches – 73 per cent of which were on suspicion of drugs offences – the proportion of searches which led to an arrest fell from 10 per cent to nine per cent over this period.

The force said it understands the “negative impact” that stop and searches can have on minority communities, but backed officers’ use of the powers as a “valuable tool” for tackling crimes related to drugs, thefts and offensive weapons.

“North Wales Police understands the potential negative impact that this power can have, not only on the individual being searched, but also on the general community and in particular on the legitimacy of policing amongst specific groups within our community,” said Helen Corcoran, local policing services superintendent, said.

“North Wales Police works closely with our community groups including representatives from our Black and Asian minority ethnic community to monitor and scrutinise the Force’s use of stop search including disproportionality. Members of our community groups have recently been involved in the training of our officers in the use of stop search.”

According to North Wales Police figures, of the 6,201 stop and searches, a total of 155 individuals were from a minority background – about 2.5 per cent of searches. This included 42 individuals from Black and Asian Minority backgrounds, 59 individuals from an Asian or Asian British background, and 54 from ‘another’ ethnic background.

Wales’ Equality and Diversity Statistics 2017-2019 found 97.3 per cent of the North Wales population described their ethnic group as white, while the combined Black, Asian and minority ethnic population stood at about 2.6 per cent.

Ms Corcoran said the number of stop and searches involving Black people in the region was “small”, adding: “A number of our stop searches do involve individuals who are not resident in the North Wales area.

“The force however is not complacent, and we will continue to work with our communities to monitor and scrutinise our use of stop and search to try and address any areas of disproportionality or community concerns.”

Police monitoring organisation StopWatch UK said the vast majority of searches cause more problems than they solve, while declining arrest rates across Wales and England show relations between the police and the public are deteriorating.

Habib Kadiri, research and policy manager for StopWatch UK, said: "What is exceptional is how racial disparities persisted even during a global pandemic, proving that the police never stopped working tirelessly to overpolice people of colour.

“We simply would not accept this of any other emergency service profession. The police must do better.”