Black people in Avon and Somerset more than three times as likely to experience forceful policing as white people

Black people are more than three times as likely to experience forceful tactics by police in Avon and Somerset as white people, new figures suggest.
File photo 26/02/13 of a police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser as a majority of the public think it is acceptable for police to carry Tasers when on patrol, a survey suggests.File photo 26/02/13 of a police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser as a majority of the public think it is acceptable for police to carry Tasers when on patrol, a survey suggests.
File photo 26/02/13 of a police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser as a majority of the public think it is acceptable for police to carry Tasers when on patrol, a survey suggests.

Black people are more than three times as likely to experience forceful tactics by police in Avon and Somerset as white people, new figures suggest.

The Race Equality Foundation said the data exposes "systemic racism and bias in policing that demands immediate action", and called for scrutiny of racial profiling and unfair police practices.

The National Police Chiefs Council said it remains committed to the Police Race Action Plan, which aims to build "an inclusive, anti-racist organisation" and address black people's negative policing experiences.

Home Office figures show Avon and Somerset Constabulary used forceful tactics, including restraint, using a conducted energy device, such as a Taser, or other equipment 2,210 times against black people and 25,042 times against white people in the year to March.

More than one tactic can be used in one incident, and one person can be involved in multiple incidents throughout the year.

Census figures from 2021 estimate 37,844 black people and 1,584,583 white people live in the Avon and Somerset area.

It means police used a forceful approach approximately 58 times per 1,000 black people, compared to just 16 per 1,000 white people, suggesting black people were 3.7 times more likely to experience such tactics.

Across England and Wales, a black person was 3.4 times more likely to experience forceful policing than a white person.

Jabeer Butt, chief executive of the Race Equality Foundation, said the higher prevalence of forceful policing against black people is "incredibly troubling".

He added: "Today’s data reveals systemic racism and bias in policing that demands immediate action. We have to scrutinise why black people face higher rates of police encounters and use of force.

"Racial profiling and unfair police practices need to be examined and addressed. If bold steps aren't taken to correct this racial inequality, it would be a moral failure and breach of the consent and trust placed in policing."

Assistant commissioner Matt Twist, the NPCC lead for self defence and restraint, said the NPCC and College of Policing are "working to understand" racial disproportionality better.

"We remain committed to driving forward the Police Race Action Plan, of which close scrutiny around the police use of powers is a central part," he added.

A total of 960,000 forceful tactics were used by police nationally in 2022-23 – up 7% from 890,000 the year before.

Of these, 29,621 were conducted by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.