Black people in Hampshire were more than six times as likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people last year, new figures show.

Human rights organisation Liberty said stops and searches only worsen division in communities and called on the Government to invest in "solutions to tackle the root cause of crime".

Home Office figures show Hampshire Constabulary carried out 837 stops and searches on black people in the year to March – equivalent to 28.5 per 1,000 black people in the area based on recent census estimates.

This is compared to a rate of 4.5 per 1,000 white people in Hampshire, meaning black people were 6.3 times as likely to be stopped and searched by police.

Across forces in England and Wales, people who self-identified or who police identified as black were 5.5 times more likely to be subject to a stop-and-search last year – down from 6.2 in 2021-22.

These figures come as five Metropolitan Police officers have denied gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing over the stop and search of athletes Bianca Williams and her partner Ricardo Dos Santos. The couple, who are black, were handcuffed after a stop and search in 2020.

Ms Williams, a 4x100m relay gold medallist, accused the police of having racially profiled them.

Akiko Hart, interim director at Liberty, said: "We all deserve to go about our lives without fear of being harassed or targeted – but these figures show that the police are still unfairly targeting black people with degrading and traumatic stop and searches."

She also added it was "particularly concerning" that more than one in five stop and searches were done on children.

"We heard in the Casey review how police officers are 'rude or uncivil' and use 'excessive force' on children during searches, leaving them scared and humiliated," she said.

Earlier this year, the Casey review into misconduct in the Met Police called for an action plan on reforming stop and search practices, including strip searches of children.

The Home Office figures show there was a significant increase in stops and searches on children with over 107,800 carried out last year – a 13% jump from 95,100 in 2021-22.

In Hampshire, 2,468 stops and searches were on under-18 years olds – accounting for 24% of searches on people. It included one child below the age of 10.

Ms Hart added: "This Government is failing our young people by stripping away the support that they need, and using the police to try and cover the cracks. But stop and search only worsens division and alienation in our communities.

"The Government must reverse cuts to youth services, and invest in solutions that tackle the root causes of violence and harm."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Nobody should be stopped and searched because of their ethnicity, and it is encouraging to see racial disparities in stop and search use fall in the past year."

They added the Home Secretary has given her full support to frontline officers to use their powers to "keep the streets safe and protect the public".

"Every knife taken off our streets is a potential life saved, and since 2019, we have removed 120,000 knives and offensive weapons from our streets through stop and search, surrender initiatives and other targeted police action," they said.