Black people are 4.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police in Hertfordshire than white, according to new figures.

The data – to be published in the Hertfordshire Independent Stop and Search Community Scrutiny Panel Annual Report – shows there were 7103 recorded ‘stop and searches’ in the county between March 2018 and February 2019.

But it says “stop and search is used disproportionately between ethnic groups in Hertfordshire”.

And it points to data that shows black people are 4.7 times more likely to be searched by the police than white.

That data relates to the number of stop and searches per 1,000 resident population of ethnic group, between March 2018 and the end of February 2019. And the ratio in the report is based on Home Office population estimates from 2017.

The report suggests that cross border movement and differences in how ethnicity is recorded – by police and those searched – can affect the data.

But scrutiny panel chair Jeffrey Burke says it continues to “trouble” the panel members.

“The panel has continued to ask questions about the apparent disparity between  stop and searches of those from minorities and others,” says Mr Burke, in the foreword to the annual report.

“The disparity is smaller in Hertfordshire than in many other similar areas – and the panel’s work has been handicapped by a lack of an up-to-date statistical picture of the relevant population – but this is an issue which has troubled and will continue to trouble the panel, and about which, the panel must remain on its toes.”

Meanwhile Mr Burke also stresses the need for the 15-strong panel to recruit from all parts of the Hertfordshire community itself – with almost 80 per cent of the panel said to be over 50 and 73 per cent white British.

Overall the report points to an increase of 812 ‘stop and searches’ compared to the the previous 12 months, rising from 6,291 to 7,103 – which is still significantly lower than the 25,112 recorded in 2013/14.

It also shows that 17.4 per cent of searches resulted in an arrest last year – which is slightly lower than the 18.5 per cent recorded the year before.

In the report, Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd points to the role of ‘stop and search’ powers as a deterrent. But he stresses it must be done “fairly, ethically and with just cause”.

And he welcomes the reviews of body worn cameras that shows police to be “courteous and polite”.

“It is important to me that officers are professional and respectful when interacting with the public and it is good that the panel have highlighted this in the report,” he says.

However Mr Burke suggests that “often” body worn cameras are switched on “too late”.

And the report says: “The panel have reiterated a concern from last year that officers commonly do not turn on their camera early enough.

“In these cases, the panel are often unable to see the full interaction, making the review of footage more difficult.

“The panel are aware that there are limitations to the technology and due to a short battery life and data storage capacity, officers can only turn on their camera when it is necessary to do so.

“When deciding to stop and search an individual, officers should look to turn on their camera at the earliest available opportunity, as is stated in the tri-force body worn camera policy.”

As part of their work over the past year the scrutiny panel – which was set up in 2015 – looked at reports from 388 randomly chosen ‘stop and searches’.

They considered monthly summary data and scrutinised footage from body worn camera from 15 occasions.  And they also had sight of complaints that had been made.

The draft of the Hertfordshire Independent Stop and Search Community Scrutiny Panel Annual Report was highlighted at a meeting of the Hertfordshire Police and Crime Panel on Thursday (June 13).