If you are black and you are stopped and searched on the street you may not be able to prove it is discrimination, or that you were stopped because of your skin colour. If on the other hand you had access to the data on the number of people stopped and it shows a disproportionate number of stop and searches of black or minority ethnic people compared to the white population could you take an individual case against the police for discrimination? Probably not. However, it could help establish a pattern of discrimination in the way the police enforce stop and search laws.
So what can the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) do in this situation? The PSED imposes a requirement on public authorities, which includes the police services to gather and monitor data, which is essential for establishing patterns of discrimination. The PSED requires that public authorities publish this information (data) every year and based on the data the public authority is required to set equality objectives. So for example if the data shows stop and search of the BME population is 40% higher than that of the white population, an example of an equality objective may be that ‘by 2015 the number of BME people stopped and searched will be reduced by 25%.
The Public Sector Equality Duty in the Equality Act 2010 places a duty on all public authorities and those who carry out public functions to have due regard in all of their functions (both policy and practice) to the need to:
Advance Equality of Opportunity
Foster good relations
Due regard to the need to advance equality of opportunity involves:
Considering the need to remove or minimise disadvantage;
Taking steps to meet their particular needs;
Encourage people from protected groups to participate in public life or in other activities where their participation is low.
Due regard to the need to foster good relations involves:
The need to tackle prejudice;