BLACK people are more than eight times more likely than white or Asian people to be stopped and searched by police in Cheshire, new figures suggest.

Stop and search is a police tactic which allows officers to search an individual they suspect to be carrying an object used in a criminal offence, without the need to arrest them.

Under Home Secretary Priti Patel, the Government has been a strong advocate of stop and search as a measure to keep communities safe, but it is fiercely criticised over the disproportionate number of black people who are searched.

Data published on the Government website shows the number of stop and searches carried out per 1,000 people in each police force area for the 12 months between April 2018 and March 2019.

In Cheshire over that period, two stop and searches were carried out for for every 1,000 white or Asian people living in the county.

But for black people, that number rises to 17 searches per 1,000 population, suggesting black people were 8.5 times more likely to be searched by Cheshire officers than white or Asian people.

Nationally the figures are even more stark, with 38 in 1,000 black people being stopped and searched over that year, compared to four in 1,000 white people and 11 in 1,000 Asian people.

The data also says that three in 1,000 'mixed race' people were stopped and searched in Cheshire.

More specific figures are not available for the county, but nationally that number rises to 12 in 1,000 for people who are mixed white/black Caribbean and nine in 1,000 for those who are mixed white/black African.

Cheshire Police says low population of black and minority ethnic residents in the county does impact on the figures, and the force insists its use of stop and search is responsible.

It adds that between April and the first week of June this year, the force stopped and searched 1,698 people, with 41 self-identifying as black – a total of 2.5 per cent – but half of those who were stopped were not residents of Cheshire.

Supt Martin Cleworth said: “Stop and search is a valuable tool in policing, that communities in Cheshire expect us to use, but with it comes accountability and trust.

"We are very conscious that to ensure the confidence of our communities we show that we’re using it legally, proportionately and in accordance with current information and intelligence.

"Our processes are rightly scrutinised by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, and we have external governance groups and independent advisory groups who monitor and advise us to make sure we are getting it right.

“We also operate the ‘ride-a-long’ scheme where members of the public can go out on patrol to see first-hand how we use stop and search."

Anyone interested in taking part in the 'ride-a-long' scheme can find out more here.