Stop and Search

Disproportionate targeting of black people through the use of Stop and Search by the police – how one Conservative Councillor responded

38 Degrees Petition

A 38 Degrees Petition is seeking to raise awareness of the fact that people of colour in Dorset are disproportionately targeted through the use of Stop and Search. (1)

The Petition is addressed to Dorset Chief Constable, James Vaughan and Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill.

It calls upon Dorset Police to recognise that Stop and Search in the county is influenced by racial profiling and for this to stop.

Significantly, the Petition calls for Dorset Police to implement community engagement training that includes input from Black and Ethnic Minority Communities. (2)

Evidence is cited from a report to prove that Police in Dorset were 25 times more likely to stop and search people of colour than white people.

This is the highest rate of Stop and Search of an ethnic group by any police force in the United Kingdom. (3)

BLM demo, Swanage, 2020

Disproportionate targeting of BAME people by the Police during the Pandemic

Similar concerns of disproportionate targeting of BAME people by the Police have been voiced during the current pandemic.

The Guardian, on Wednesday 17 June 2020, reported that police enforcing the Covid 19 Lockdown in England and Wales were almost up to 7 times more likely to issue fines to BAME (Black, Asian and minority) people than white people.

BLM demo, Swanage, 2020

Racist tropes expressed by Dorset Conservative Councillor

The Dorset Police and Crime Panel met in September 2020 to consider the report referred to by the 38 Degrees Petition.

The Police and Crime Commissioner is reported (4) as having said that the Stop and Search figures, “well outside the national range”, had been the “Achilles heel” of Dorset Police for a number of years. He confessed to having become frustrated in his efforts to get the force to tackle the issue.

He said that the force had “spent too many years trying to defend its statistics, rather than questioning its tactics” – although he did concede that some progress was being made. The force was not institutionally racist he claimed, but it did need to consider that was happening and “break the cycle.”

Some might say that the Commissioner was over generous or too delicate in his judgement that the force was not institutionally racist, yet there could be equivocation so far as one Panel Member was concerned.

After prefacing what he wanted to say by the comment “racism in any form is an abhorrent thing”, Conservative Councillor Bill Pipe then made use of an all too familiar racist trope:

“If a particular race or colour is likely to commit specific crimes and we don’t stop and search them and they carry out these crimes then I think we are doing wrong.

I know that we’re (the Dorset Police: reporter’s insertion here) the worst for this, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that certain races are more likely in Dorset to commit these crimes”.

Councillor Pipe denied being racist, saying “I am probably the only one around this virtual table who supports Africans in Africa”. (5)

 He then repeated his view that Stop and Search in Dorset was needed to “stop and search those people we consider to be those more likely to commit a specific crime, particularly when we are talking about county lines; we’re talking about drug dealing and perhaps knife crime”. (6)

 Conservative Councillor Bobbie Dove interrupted Councillor Pipe at this point, saying that there was “nothing which would support his views”, and that she wished to disassociate herself from his observations. (7)

Other Councillors and the Chief Executive of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office made clear that they were of the same mind as Councillor Bobbie Dove.

Councillor Pipe then said “I have nothing else to say” and abruptly left the virtual meeting. (8)

Councillor Pipe removed from the Dorset Police and Crime Panel

BBC News on the 6th of October reported that Councillor Pipe had been removed from the Dorset Police and Crime Panel, and that Dorset County Leader, Spencer Flower, confirmed that Councillor Pipe “would voluntarily take equality and diversity training”. (9)

Spencer Flower, speaking at a Dorset Council Cabinet Meeting, said that Councillor Pipe’s views were “unacceptable and disappointing”.

He made the point that Councillors had a “responsibility to educate (themselves) … about the issues and injustices faced all members of … (their) communities”, so that they could “properly represent them”. (10)

The leaders of the three opposition groups on the Council had written to Spencer Flower saying that the views expressed by Councillor Pipe were “incompatible with his status as an elected representative”. (11)

Councillor Pipe’s apology for inexcusable and ill-informed remarks

Councillor Pipe apologised “unreservedly” for his comments, saying that they were inexcusable and “ill informed”. He said that he was “deeply sorry” and “ashamed” for the offence they caused, and for the “inappropriate way” in which he tabled his comments. He had not meant “to offend”.  (12)       

Councillor Pipe’s views not representative                              

The Acting CEO of Dorset Council, John Snellgrove, said that Councillor Pipe’s views did not represent those of the Police and Crime Panel, nor those of Dorset Council. He said that the Council took racism “very seriously” and did not tolerate “disrespectful behaviour”. The Council recognised the injustices faced by BAME people in Dorset and was committed to “promoting equality and tackling discrimination”. (13)

The Council Monitoring Officer, together with an “independent person”, investigated Councillor Pipe’s conduct.

Diversity training only a start

There can be no doubt as to the obstacles and prejudice being faced by people of colour.

The Guardian recently reported that a black female barrister, Alexandra Wilson, was stopped 3 times in one day in the court she was attending – she was assumed to be the defendant.

She’s now been given an apology by Kevin Sadler, acting head of HM Courts and Tribunal Services. (14)

Yet her experience was not unique. Perhaps a person who believed that “certain races” are more liable to commit crimes would have assumed that she must be the defendant.

Much more, surely, is required in Dorset than diversity training or apologies, no matter how “unreservedly” they are given, or how appropriately comments are tabled.

At a BLM demonstration held this summer in Swanage, activists Jasmine Raevenhall-Nuente, Lewis Shepherd and Nyasha Madhuku spoke from the heart with the truth that comes from lived experience.

Jasmine said how she had been asked if she had “ever experienced racism” – her reply should be compulsory listening to all those who benefit from white privilege:

“As soon as we are born we are aware that we are different – we are told that we will be treated differently because of the colour of our skin”. (15)

Shame on those who repeat hollow tropes derived from prejudice and ignorance.

An after thought

Councillor Pipe’s name is well known to Health Campaigners fighting to keep open Poole Hospital’s A&E and Maternity Departments, and to stop the merger of Poole and Royal Bournemouth Hospitals.

Swanage Labour Party Vice Chair and Swanage Town Councillor, Debby Monkhouse, made a complaint to the Ombudsman about Councillor Pipe – he had promised Purbeck District Council and told the BBC that he would support retaining the A&E and Maternity Departments at Poole Hospital – but then voted the next week for those Departments to be closed.



BLM demo, Swanage, 2020

(2) The Petition states: “It is clear that Stop and Search in Dorset is influenced by racial profiling. We demand that Dorset Police immediately desist from race-profiling and that the force implements community engagement training that includes input from Black and Ethnic Minority Communities”

(3) “London had the highest stop and search rates for all ethnic groups apart from Black (Dorset) and (Merseyside). Police in Dorset were 25 times more likely to stop Black people than white people”.

A table showing the stop and search rate per 1,000 people by ethnicity and areas has Dorset with the highest number of Black people at 62 per 1,000, compared to 51 per 1,000 in the area policed by the Met.

(4) Bournemouth Daily Echo, 25 September 2020

(5) Source as for Note 4. Councillor Bill Pipe went on to say: “I support two schools out there; it costs me thousands of pounds a year. I challenge anyone to call me a racist, though they probably will.”

(6) Source as Note 4

(7) Source as Note 4

(8) The reporter notes: “(Councillor Pipe) was not heard of again, after previously telling the chairman he would need to leave the meeting to attend another one”. Source, as for Note 4.

(9) BBC News, October 6 2020,

(10) Source as Note 9

(11) Source as Note 9. The Bournemouth Daily Echo, 7 October 2020, quotes the statement made by the main opposition leaders on Dorset Council:

“As community leaders we must set an example and decry the discrimination and injustice that still exists for Black, Asian, and all minority ethnic communities.

If one of our own group members had displayed such objectionable behaviour, we should have asked them to resign immediately.

We call upon you to act appropriately and demonstrate Dorset Council is no place for councillors with such views”

(12) Bournemouth Daily Echo, 25 September 2020

(13) As for Note 12

(14) The Guardian, 24 September 2020