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Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy Stock Photo
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Janine Wiedel Photolibrary / Alamy Stock Photo
World News

EXCLUSIVE: Premier research highlights call for the Church to respond to racial disparities in stop and search

by Tola Mbakwe

New research by Premier has shone a light on the stark difference in how white people and ethnic minorities are treated by police in the UK.

When a group of ethnic ministries were asked if they or an immediate family member has been subject to stop and search by police, 24 per cent answered “yes, one or more times”. That number decreased to just under 9 per cent for whites.

The poll of just under 500 people, which took place between November 2023 and February 2024, also found that there’s a difference in opinion on the topic of racism in local police forces.

Forty-two per cent of ethnic minorities polled said they believe there is systematic racism within their police force, while only 19 per cent of whites believed so.

The use of stop and search has been a subject of considerable debate and controversy in the UK for many years. Critics argue it disproportionately targets ethnic minority groups, particularly black and Asian individuals, contributing to tensions between these communities and the police. Others feel that the purpose of stop and search are misunderstood and that stops are usually proportionate to crime rates and local demographics.  

The new statistics from Premier’s poll echo the latest data from the Home Office which state that “Individuals from a black or black British background have the highest disparity rate, at a rate 4.1 times higher than that of those from a white ethnic group across England and Wales.”

Meanwhile, last March, a landmark report found the Metropolitan Police to be racist, misogynistic and homophobic. The Home Office admitted serious failures and said it has made efforts on police reform.

While there were differing experiences with police highlighted in the poll, respondents came to consensus in regards to Christians being a part of improving the criminal justice system.  

When asked “Do you believe that Christians, Churches and Church Leaders should take on greater leadership and responsibility for driving police and criminal justice reforms?” 73 per cent of ethnic minorities answered “yes”, and 58 per cent of whites agreed.

Although most responses emphasised that the primary role of church leaders and churches is spiritual guidance and sharing the Gospel, they suggested that involvement in police matters should be in the hands of church members who feel their faith compels them to take action.

Some comments suggested that churches can support police through prayer, encouragement, and faith-based support. They also proposed that churches should encourage suitable members to join the police force for better representation.

Fifty-seven per cent of ethnic minority respondents and 48 per cent white respondents strongly agreed that Christians, churches and church leaders should take part in the rehabilitation of those who have been convicted of a criminal offence.

Most agreed that having accountability mechanisms, more diversity in the police force and  better faith and literacy training are suitable ways to increase public confidence in police, which a 2023 UK parliamentary report found to be declining in recent years and vary by ethnicity and gender.  

A panel of Christian experts in criminal justice and policing will be discussing Premier’s research on Thursday, 11th April.

A live roundtable discussion will be aired at 12pm on Premier Christian Radio and Premier Gospel. You can tune in on Premier Plus, on DAB radio and on your smart speaker.

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