GREATER Manchester Police (GMP) officers are eight times more likely to stop and search black people than white people, according to Government figures that have been released.

Under the law, an officer has the powers to stop and search people if they have “reasonable grounds” to suspect they are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime such as a crowbar.

Statistics gathered from stop and search checks between April 2018 and March 2019 show eight in 1,000 black people were stopped by the force, compared with just one in 1,000 white people.

The rate per thousand was three for citizens from a mixed race origin, two for Asian people and one for people from other ethnicities, including Chinese people.

Moving forward, the force will be working with the Mayor’s Office to publish a quarterly Race Equality Policing Report on the use of policing powers to “help to ensure all communities receive equal treatment” from GMP.

In neighbouring forces, stop and search figures show more black people were stopped than white people too.

Merseyside's stop and search rate per thousand black people was 43, Cheshire's was 17 and Lancashire's was 11.

The rate for stopping white people was 13 for Merseyside, two for Cheshire and two for Lancashire.

Across England and Wales, the average stop and search rate per thousand was 38 for black people, 11 for Asian people and 11 for mixed race people.

The rate for other ethnicities, including Chinese people, was seven with the figure for white people being four.

Assistant Chief Constable of GMP, Rob Potts, said: “In the UK we have a long established tradition of policing by consent, working in communities to prevent crime and solve problems.

"I would like to assure the public that stop and search is not used lightly and officers will only exercise their legal right to stop members of the public where they feel it is absolutely necessary.

"It is a particularly important tactic that we employ in order to tackle knife crime in our efforts to reduce serious violence.

“The use of body worn video cameras to record stop and searches has helped to reassure the public that their interactions with the police are recorded.

"The technology offers greater transparency for those in front of the camera as well as those behind it.

“At Greater Manchester Police, we also operate the Lay observers’ scheme where members of the public can go out on accompany police officers while out on patrol to witness our use of stop and search and give us feedback.

“The relationship between the police and the public in the UK is strong but there is always more to do.

"As a force, we will continue to work with our communities and stakeholders to strengthen that relationship, improve the quality of interactions and ensure that we continue to protect the public.

“In order to build more community confidence through greater transparency we have already committed to working alongside the Mayor’s Office to publish a quarterly Race Equality Policing Report on the use of policing powers.

“This report will help to ensure that all of our communities receive equal treatment from Greater Manchester Police."

Overall, GMP had a lower stop and search rate than the England and Wales average.

The average in the two countries combined for all people was seven in 1,000 while GMP's rate was just two.

Assistant Chief Constable Potts said: “While Greater Manchester Police is one of the forces with lower rates (of stop and search), it is important to stress that it is just one of the tactics that we employ.

"Knife amnesties, engagement and education are examples of other tactics to help keep people safe across Greater Manchester.

“Stop and search powers are an important policing tool for protecting the public, tackling crime and keeping our communities safe and must be used in a fair and intelligence-led way manner that supports public confidence and is independently scrutinised.

“Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, as well as external governance groups and independent advisory groups, monitor and review the data and advise us to ensure we are using these powers proportionately."