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Racial Bias in Policing: Police Stop and Searches in England and Wales

Vani Borooah

MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: This paper probes racial disparities in the police practice of stop and search in England and Wales. Specifically, it examines the hypothesis that “ethnic minorities” suffer two possible disadvantages vis-à-vis the ethnic majority of British Whites: (i) persons belonging to ethnic minorities, and in particular the non-white ethnic minorities, may be victims of racial bias by the police who, in selecting persons for stops, might disproportionately target non-white ethnic minorities; (ii) persons from ethnic minorities — and, again, in particular the non-white ethnic minorities — live disproportionately in Police Areas (hereafter, Areas) in which a large number of stops are conducted relative to the Area population. Consequently, the stop rate for ethnic minorities — defined as the number of stops per 1,000 of ethnic population — could be high because, relative to British Whites, persons from ethnic minorities live in Areas in which the overall stop rate — defined as the number of stops per 1,000 of the Area’s population — is high. The chapter proposes a methodology for distinguishing between the bias and location effects. The chapter also examines the pattern of arrests following stops and casts doubt on another hypothesis, namely, that persons from ethnic minorities are stopped more often than their White counterparts because they were more likely to offend.

Keywords: Police; Stop and Search; Ethnic Minoriries; England and Wales (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: K42 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law and nep-ure
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Published in A Quantitative Analysis of Regional Well-Being Routledge (2021): pp. 110-138

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