Stop and Search in England: A Reformed tactic or business as usual?

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In 1999, the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry heavily criticized ethnic disparities in stop and search ('disproportionality'), triggering a national reform effort to make the tactic fairer and more effective. Analyses of searches under core powers using up to 12 years of annual data from 38 police force areas in England indicate that aggregate disparities showed no improvement following the reforms. However, this overall finding is heavily influenced by London and, to a lesser extent, Greater Manchester and West Midlands, which are out of step with most of the rest of the country. The average force showed reductions in disproportionality associated with the reforms, although did not see improvements in arrest rates of searches. Theoretical implications of the results are discussed. The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD). All rights reserved.2010

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-974
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Social Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law


  • Police reform
  • Stephen lawrence inquiry
  • disproportionality
  • police accountability
  • stop and search


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