ALMOST half the people stopped and searched by Wiltshire Police last year were under 25, while black people are seven times more likely to be stopped than whites, recent figures reveal.
Wiltshire Police is consulting over a new policy, which is hoped to ensure the powers are used fairly and responsibly by officers on the street.
A review of the procedures used by the force was conducted as the result of an inspection last year, and an updated policy has been produced.
People are being asked for their views on stop and search in general, though of more than 6,000 stops during the past year just five complaints were lodged.
More offenders could face the cells in Wiltshire as the arrest rate following stop and searches is above the national average of nine per cent, with 13.1 per cent of those stopped spending time in custody.
The new policy recommends that stop and searches in Wiltshire should be more intelligence-led, with reasonable grounds for the intrusion.
Deliberation will also be taken about the disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities being searched.
Andrew Carr, superintendent for Swindon, said: “The review into our use of stop and search highlighted a few changes we should make to further improve this process.
“When the consultation is complete, Wiltshire Police will be collating the responses and making any necessary adjustments to the policy.
“We are keen to hear the views of our communities in Wiltshire and we welcome your feedback.
“Stop and search is a valuable tool in helping to prevent crime and protect the public.”
Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: “The correct use, and recording, of stop and search powers by the constabulary is something I regularly monitor with a meeting with the lead officer.
Police and crime commissioner Angus McPherson
“I’m pleased this consultation is being carried out and encourage the public to respond, especially those who have been subject to the use of the power.”
The updated policy gives more detail to how officers complete a stop and search, what training they receive and how the information is collected, along with ways to improve public confidence in the procedure.
The aim of the policy is to ensure officers exercise their powers to stop and search members of the public fairly, responsibly, without unlawful discrimination and with respect for the dignity of anyone being searched.
To read the stop and search policy and complete the survey, visit www.wiltshire.police.uk
The consultation opened on Friday and will close on Thursday, May 22.
HOW FORCE PUTS POLICY INTO PRACTICE
STOP and search is a power a police officer or special constable can use to detain someone based on reasonable grounds for suspicion, to eliminate unnecessary arrests.
Police officers and special constables are directed by The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
The powers allow officers to stop people at any time to ask them what they are doing, why they are in an area, and where they are going.
They have the authority to search a person if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying a weapon, drugs or stolen property.
They can search anyone if they have intelligence leading them to believe they are about to commit a crime or are carrying a weapon.
Before a person is searched, an officer must tell them:
- Their name and police station
- What they expect to find
- The reason for the search
- Why they are allowed to search you
- That you can have a record of the search