BLACK people were twice as likely to be searched by police in Scotland than white, Asian or Indian citizens, a new report has revealed.

The figures come from the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research analysis of 2016, which found that 3700 searches of black and minority ethnic people were undertaken in 2016, accounting for 7.5 per cent of the total.

Search rates were found to be lowest for white people and for those from Asian and Indian backgrounds. For black people and those of African descent the rate doubled, while those from other ethnic groups were between four and five times more likely to be searched.

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The Gypsy community, in particular, is thought to be at risk of being regularly searched.

Report co-author Professor Susan McVie told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that despite the small search numbers, the data is designed to give the force a “baseline” figure.

She said: “We were looking at age, sex and ethnicity as three areas of protected characteristics that obviously it’s very important to be mindful of when stopping and searching, that we don’t want to see any disproportionality in searching for those groups.

“When we look at the figures at a national level for ethnicity, we did find higher rates of searches overall for those from non-white backgrounds, particularly amongst those who classified as other ethnic groups, which did include Gypsy travellers amongst many others.”

The study predates the implementation of a national Police Scotland code of practice for stop-and-search and the retraining of officers and critics believe the report could be misleading.

Researchers accepted that limited figures for the search and seizure of minority groups combined with possibly unreliable population statistics could produce “a much greater degree of error around these figures”.

Multiple searches are not accounted for, it was highlighted, meaning the prospect of a small number of repeat searched driving up the numbers could not be discounted.

However, Police Scotland superintendent, Andy McKay, welcomed the report, which was due to be discussed at a Scottish Police Authority committee meeting yesterday.

“Police Scotland is committed to ensuring that all stop-and-search activity is carried out in a lawful, proportionate, justifiable and accountable manner and officers will treat members of the public in keeping with Police Scotland’s core values of fairness, integrity, respect,” he said.

“Stop-and-search is intelligence-led and a valuable policing tactic and we acknowledge the observations made in the report regarding the monitoring of stop-search activity in terms of protected characteristics which we will be taking forward as we continue to develop our recording methodology in support of the code of practice.”