A COUNCILLOR has apologised for comments he made about stop and search tactics in Dorset.

During a meeting of the Dorset police and crime panel Cllr Pipe claimed he was not racist, but attempted to justify why police officers might want to target individuals people in stop and search operations.

The panel has disassociated itself from remarks made by Purbeck councillor Bill Pipe during a debate on why black people are 25 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the county’s police force.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole councillor Bobbie Dove interrupted him to claim that what he was saying had no evidence to support it and she wanted nothing to do with the remarks.

Other councillors and the police and crime commissioner, Martyn Underhill, also disassociated themselves from the remarks as did panel chairman Mike Short at the end of the meeting.

The panel had been discussing progress on disproportionate use of stop and search for black people in the county – with a black person 25 times more likely to be stopped and searched, compared to a white person, although across all cases they were more likely to find what they were looking for by stopping a white person than someone who is black.

The Police and Crime Commissioner said the figures, which were well outside the national range, had been the ‘achilles heel’ of Dorset Police for a number of years. He admitted he had become frustrated in trying to get the force to tackle the issue, although he said it did appear that some progress was now being made and the figures had started to dip.

“The force has spent too many years trying to defend its statistics, rather than questioning its tactics,” said Mr Underhill.

He said that all the evidence he had seen would not support claims that the Dorset Force was institutionally racist, but said it did need to get to the bottom of the disproportionate figures and ‘break the cycle.’

Cllr Pipe left the virtual meeting as soon as his remarks were made.

In his remarks to the committee his prefaced what he had to say by commenting: “Racism in any form is an abhorrent thing,” but then said -

“But if a particular race or colour is likely to commit specific crimes and we don’t stop and search them and they carry out these crimes then I think we are doing wrong.

“I know that we’re (Dorset Police) the worst for this but it doesn’t take away from the fact that certain races are more likely in Dorset to commit these crimes, and I’m not a racist in any way, l am probably the only one around this virtual table who supports Africans in Africa. I support two schools out there, it costs me thousands of pounds a year. I challenge anyone to call me a racist, although they probably will.

“I think we need to use stop and search to be able to stop and search those people we consider to be those who are more likely to commit a specific crime, particularly when we are talking about county lines; we’re talking about drug dealing and perhaps knife crime.”

Cllr Dove interrupted him at this point to say there was nothing which would support his views and she wanted to detatch herself from the remarks, with similar comments coming from several other councillors and chief executive of the police and crime commissioner’s office, Simon Bullock.

Cllr Pipe added only “I have nothing  else to say” and was not heard of again after previously telling the chairman he would need to leave to meeting to attend another one.

He alter issued a statement saying: "I wish to apologise unreservedly for the comments I made at the meeting of the Police & Crime Panel earlier today.

"I cannot excuse what I said and accept that it was ill-informed.

"I am deeply sorry and ashamed for the offence caused and the inappropriate way in which I tabled my comments, none of which was meant to offend.

"I await the conclusions of the monitoring officer and the independent person following their investigation."

John Sellgren, Acting Chief Executive of Dorset Council said:" We are aware of the comments made by Cllr Pipe at today’s Dorset Police and Crime Panel meeting.

"We do not tolerate disrespectful behaviour and take racism very seriously. The comments made by Cllr Pipe do not represent the views of Dorset Council or the Police and Crime Panel. The Monitoring Officer, together with an independent person, will decide the most appropriate course of action in line with our councillor code of conduct.

"Dorset Council condemns all forms of racism. We recognise the injustices faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in our communities and we’re committed to promoting equality and tackling discrimination."