Concern at level of black people being stopped and searched by police
Fears have been raised of a rising disparity in use of police powers - after people from black and ethic minority backgrounds in Suffolk were shown to be 4.6 times more likely to be stopped and seearched than white people.
The figure, for the second quarter of 2019, is a rise compared to the same period of 2018 - when people of black and ethnic minority backgrounds were 3.8 times more likely to be stopped and searched.
A report before the police and crime commissioner's accountability and performance panel on Friday revealed disproportionality had fluctuated between 3.3 and 5.3 last year.
Suffolk saw the first rise in people being stopped and searched since the introduction of the Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme in 2014 - setting new guidance to achieve greater transparency, community involvement and a more intelligence-led approach.
The police currently have the power to stop and search anyone under the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act, Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, Terrorism Act and Misuse of Drugs Act.
Last August, the Home Office announced plans to bolster Section 60 powers to crack down on rising knife crime nationally.
A Stop and Search Reference Group (SSRG), administered by Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE), meets regularly to scrutinise the constabulary's use of powers.
Franstine Jones, SSRG chairwoman, told Friday's meeting that the group had been concerned about the government's extension of powers, and that figures showed there was an upward trend in disparity, against a reduction in those from BAME backgrounds actually being arrested as a result.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler said that while use had increased, the rate of items being found had improved.
However he acknowledged rising disproportionality, which he said fell when taking into account the use of powers on people from outside Suffolk.
"My job is to ensure we use this tactic to the best of our ability to protect communities, and that we always have an intelligence case to inform that use," he added.
"We will continue to monitor disproportionality and work with ISCRE. I wouldn't want to see that increase continue.
"We're looking to target people who are criminally active. We know some come from outside the county to deal drugs, and the figures show we have been targeting the right people."