Sunday, 17 October 2010

Statistical Smokescreens

The Guardian reports that Black people are 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in England and Wales. Clearly the police are racists. What the article doesn't bother to tell you is how many stop and searches end in arrest. The figures are available from here.

Overall throughout the whole of England and Wales a stop and search is likely to result in arrest in 2.8% of cases. For white people that figure becomes 3.3% and for black people it is 2.7%.

But look more closely. 95% of all stop and searches involving black people were carried out by the Metropolitan Police. For that force the arrest rate is 2.5% for whites and 2.7% for blacks.

If the arrest rate for blacks was a lot lower than for whites then one could understand accusations of racism - black people are being stopped for no reason. But there is no statistically significant difference in the arrest rate. This means that each stop and search is as likely to result in arrest regardless whether the person being stopped is black or white. That means that police are as good (or actually as bad) at spotting who they should stop regardless of skin colour. Is that racism? No.

I wonder why Mark Townsend, the Guardian reporter here, didn't think it was his job to do any kind of investigation about the truth of the claims being made to him?

No comments:

Post a Comment