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Stop and search remarks – Bill Pipes, Dorset councillor removed

Councillor Bill Pipes was removed from the Dorset Police and Crime Panel after he made several remarks targeting stop and search operations.

Mr Pipe apologised for his comments about ‘certain races’ which he claimed were more likely to commit crimes in Dorset.

Councillors from the opposition party have suggested that the council needs to take action over the remarks.

Council leader for Dorset, Spencer Flower, said that Mr Pipe had been removed from office and the panel. Mr Pipe would be taking voluntary equality and diversity training.

The incident took place while Mr Pipe had been speaking at an online meeting with the Police and Crime Panel. They were discussing a report which stated that black people in Dorset were 25 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

Mr Pipe commented that should a particular colour or race be more likely to commit a specific crime, then it was wrong for the police force not to stop and search them.

‘Certain races in Dorset are more likely to commit some crimes and I am not a racist in any way.’ commented Mr Pipe.

Martyn Underhill – Police and Crime Commissioner – along with several other councillors who attended the meeting have all distanced themselves from Mr Pipe’s claims.

Mr Pipe later said that he was ‘deeply sorry and ashamed’ about his ill-informed comments.

Views of the leaders of three opposition parties serving on the council have stated that Mr Pipe’s views were incompatible with his status as an elected representative.

Mr Flower said that the comments were disappointing and unacceptable.

He went on to say that as councillors, they all had a responsibility to educate themselves regarding the injustices and issues which the members of the community faced. Only by doing this would they be able to represent them properly.

The comments by Mr Pipe come at a time when a report was issued stating that black people are 25 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people in Dorset.

Mr Underhill said that the figures were an ‘Achilles’ heel’ for him, with too many years spent trying to defend those statistics, instead of questioning the tactics.

He continued to say that he had become frustrated when trying to get Dorset Police to deal with the stop and search issues. However, according to the local democracy reporting service, the figures were declining, and progress was being made.

On addressing the Police and Crime Panel Mr Underhill said that the force needed to ‘break the cycle’ about the disproportionate numbers.

The figures presented were taken from the 12 months ending on 31st March 2019 and was far lower – and even in line with – national averages.

Bobbie Dove, Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole councillor said that there was no evidence to support the figures.

Nationally, figures show that black people are eight time more likely to be stopped then white people.

Dorset Race Equality Council member Nathalie Sherring said that she was extremely disappointed and shocked about the comments which were made in a public meeting. She called on Mr Pipe to take voluntary training on unconscious bias.

The comments, said Ms Sherring, felt like a step backwards. Even though there are policies in place, and people more aware of racist issues these days, there remain lots of issues to sort out. There needs to be lots more effort for people to embed the equality and diversity for all people.

These equality issues are just as important to embed in Dorset as they are for London or Birmingham.

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