The fieldwork comprised face-to-face depth interviews with 55 individuals stopped or searched by the police during the pilot and discussion groups with 104 members of the local communities on the pilot sites. A total of 159 people were included in this study. Those interviewed were purposively selected using pre-set quota designed to focus on people most likely to experience police stops and searches: people from minority ethnic groups, the young, and males. Membership of the discussion groups was also constructed using quota: groups were divided equally between white, Asian (subdivided into Indian and Pakistani) and black (subdivided into African and Caribbean) participants, and drew from a broad range of ages. Respondents were asked about their actual experiences of police stops and searches. This provided a useful basis for comparison with results from previous survey work and also some context for more specific discussions about the pilot. For some respondents, in all ethnic groups, the experience of being stopped by the police had become a familiar part of their lives. People who had been stopped several times in a day felt victimised by the police. The distinction between a ‘stop’ and a ‘search’ was generally recognised. However, being searched was regarded as far more intimidating and serious – “an invasion of privacy”. As a result, people placed great importance on being given the reason for a search. People’s experience of being stopped tended to be negative – respondents from all ethnic groups talked about the police treating them as being “guilty until proven innocent” – which they found insulting. Their immediate reaction to being stopped was a desire to get away as soon as possible, governed primarily by embarrassment and the possibility of being seen by other people. Some respondents had more positive experiences of being stopped. These stops were characterised by: being given an acceptable reason for the stop; where the officers were polite; where the stop did not last a long time; and where people did not feel unfairly targeted. Negative experiences, however, tended to be more prevalent than positive ones and people tended to reflect on and talk about these more. As a result, negative experiences were more memorable. Black respondents were least likely to recall positive experiences
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