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UK Report: Minorities 6 Times More Likely To Be Searched For Drugs

By on August 26, 2013
The Metropolitan police stop and search someone for drugs every 58 seconds in England and Wales.

The Metropolitan police stop and search someone for drugs every 58 seconds – Stop and search programs in England and Wales are being enforced against ethnic groups at shocking rates, according to the latest report by Release and the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Based on data from 2009-2010, the report found that black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than white people. Asians were searched 2.5 times as much and mixed race individuals twice as much.

Despite the targeting of minorities in random drug searches, the report revealed that blacks and Asians actually had lower rates of drug use compared to Caucasians.


The racial bias seemed to extend to the court room as well, Co-author Niamh Eastwood noted in a press release.

“Black people are more likely to get a criminal record than white people, are more likely to be taken to court and are more likely to be fined or imprisoned for drug offences because of the way in which they are policed, rather than because they are more likely to use drugs.”

The report revealed that 21.5% of black people found with cannabis were charged verses only 12.4% of white people in the same situation. The difference was even greater for cocaine possession.


Drugs were found to be a major focus of searches, accounting for half of all stop and searches carried out. Less than 1% of stops were for guns.

Michael Shiner, another co-author of the report, concluded to The Guardian that stop and search programs were not being used for crime reduction.

“There is very little, if any, correlation between crime rates and stop-and-search rates… To see it as being about crime is to miss the point.”

The authors are calling for decriminalization of drug possession in light of such drastic failures of law enforcement. Eastwood notes that “little has changed” over the past 3 decades regarding racially biased policing, despite numerous protests and calls for reform.

In total, half a million stop and searches for drugs were carried out in England and Wales from 2009-2010. Only 7% resulted in arrest.

The full report is available at

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