With public trust and confidence in the police at an all-time low, StopWatch has released a new, free-to-use dashboard mapping stop and searches across England and Wales.
This timely resource reimagines the popular ‘Your Area’ webpage as a data visualisation of stop and search activity, empowering individuals and communities to more easily monitor their local force.
Despite persistent and high levels of ethnic disproportionality in stop and searches, many police chiefs are still in denial about institutional racism. StopWatch’s interactive tracker spotlights this ongoing problem by enabling users to access over ten years of data, so that they can ask questions and get answers independently of the police.
As well as looking at national trends, the tracker also allows users to monitor their local force, make comparisons with others across the country, and view ethnic disparities in stop and search over time, identifying the worst-offending forces.
Additional improvements to the dashboard are also in progress, which will expand its functionality to include more detailed force profiles, search outcome comparisons, and use of force tactics such as handcuffing and taser deployments.
The analysts commissioned to create the dashboard said:
Monitoring police action and holding police to account is a critical function of democracy, and one which we hope to support and bolster through the development of this interactive dashboard. Our design philosophy was to develop a modern and simple web environment in which people from across society can view key statistics and trends in the use of stop and search policing in the UK. We hope that users will find value in both the information it provides and the interface through which it is provided.
StopWatch’s executive director Habib Kadiri said:
We are excited to launch what will be the first of a series of data visualisations aimed at bringing greater transparency to police stop and search activity across England and Wales. Our dashboard brings new features which will help grassroots organisations, civil society groups, campaigners, journalists, and more to better hold forces to account, just as police chiefs seek to justify away concerns about the tactic, especially over racial disproportionality. The public will come to see the tracker as a necessary tool for reclaiming control of the narrative on stop and search from the police.
About the tracker
StopWatch commissioned Ben Cowley (analyst, Relex Solutions) and Matthew Tibbles (consultant, WPI Economics) to produce the interactive stop and search tracker, with additional assistance from Dr Thiago R. Oliveira. Data sources include the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.
For more information and to request further comment, please contact executive director Habib Kadiri via our About StopWatch page.
We’d like to thank our funders A B Charitable Trust, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and Quadrature for their assistance in helping us to realise the project.