The General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation has demanded an unreserved apology from a Scottish Labour MSP over what he claimed was a “disgraceful slur” against the Scottish Police Force.
Calum Steele launched a broadside against Labour MSP Anas Sarwar after the latter claimed black and Asian people were four times more likely to be stop-and-searched in Scotland.
Steele was responding after Sarwar posted a message on social media which said: “Official stats published by @scotgov show you are more than 4x MORE likely to be stop and searched in Scotland if you are Black or Asian. That is despite being LESS likely to result in positive detection. Actions not words!”
The Labour MSP’s claim was based on a report compiled by Susan McVie who is Professor of Quantitative Criminology in the School of Law, University of Edinburgh.
However Sarwar’s claim fell to pieces when the author herself rubbished it, tweeting: “Clearly an emotive subject, but as the author of the report I have to reiterate the strong warning against claiming racist bias in stop and search. There are technical frailties in the data (both stop and search data and census data) that do not support this conclusion.”
Ms McVie later added: “These figures have been misinterpreted. Rate of search for Black and Asian people combined is 2.8 per 1,000 which compares with 2.7 per 1,000 for white people. No difference. Rates for very small ethnic groups have huge confidence intervals and can’t be reliably compared.”
The intervention of the author prompted the General Secretary of the Scottish Police Federation to demand an apology from Mr Sarwar.
Callum Steele tweeted: “Now that the author of the report has confirmed what @VChairSPF and I have been saying will @AnasSarwar withdraw his disgraceful slur against police officers and offer an unreserved apology.”
The Labour MSP has thus far shown no sign that he is prepared to either withdraw his claim or issue an apology to the Scottish Police Force.
Steele, who also criticised The Herald newspaper’s coverage of the report, later added: “After seeing today’s disgraceful impugning of police officers by @AnasSarwar it’s more clear than ever that there are no depths deemed too deep to plumb when it comes to seeking to trash police officers.”
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