Police power to stop and search is under review - and you can have your say

Superintendent for Swindon Andrew Carr

Superintendent for Swindon Andrew Carr

First published in News

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.

Swindon Advertiser:

  • 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

Comments (3)

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9:04am Tue 29 Apr 14

Wildwestener says...

If the crime statistics profile of offenders roughly matches the profile of those stopped and search (ie is half the crime in wilts committed by under 25s and 7 times more likely to be committed by a black person) then the current practise is ok. If it doesn't (and I strongly suspect it doesn't) then the current practises, whether intentionally or not, are discriminatory. They are also a waste of public money if that is the case. It would be helpful to see these profiles against one and other so we can judge.
If the crime statistics profile of offenders roughly matches the profile of those stopped and search (ie is half the crime in wilts committed by under 25s and 7 times more likely to be committed by a black person) then the current practise is ok. If it doesn't (and I strongly suspect it doesn't) then the current practises, whether intentionally or not, are discriminatory. They are also a waste of public money if that is the case. It would be helpful to see these profiles against one and other so we can judge. Wildwestener
  • Score: -1

10:37am Tue 29 Apr 14

House with no name says...

The adver comments are very misleading - It has to play the racist card by carefully saying blacks are 7 times more likely to be stopped & searched - Is that in Wiltshire or countrywide - I think it is the latter.

If half are under 25 then surely that is a very good indicator of who is actually committing crime.

The idea of stop & search is when the Police are on the street and suspect someone has done something wrong and a search of that person is likely to produce evidence, nothing wrong with that all - If you don't commit crime then you have nothing to hide.

As for stopping blacks I would think that because they shout louder they are less likely to be searched unless the Police have more suspicion than if it were a white indigenous person - either that or I am cynical!

If this is a way of catching the thieving and violent underclass so be it - I would much prefer it is used more regularly to keep drugs and weapons off our streets.

I would imagine that if a toe rag knows he or she is about to be searched it could be relatively easy to ditch something before the search and this would obviously affect the success rate which regularly gets adversely reported upon.

Surely this is a power to be used by Police on the streets but unfortunately we only see the Police stopping soft traffic to get a breathalyser or targeting their resources on so called domestic abuse because it is politically correct - and probably when they do arrive at an incident it is mostly over and the miscreants have vanished.

As for the reported comment "with reasonable grounds for the intrusion" - surely that criteria has always been in place.
The adver comments are very misleading - It has to play the racist card by carefully saying blacks are 7 times more likely to be stopped & searched - Is that in Wiltshire or countrywide - I think it is the latter. If half are under 25 then surely that is a very good indicator of who is actually committing crime. The idea of stop & search is when the Police are on the street and suspect someone has done something wrong and a search of that person is likely to produce evidence, nothing wrong with that all - If you don't commit crime then you have nothing to hide. As for stopping blacks I would think that because they shout louder they are less likely to be searched unless the Police have more suspicion than if it were a white indigenous person - either that or I am cynical! If this is a way of catching the thieving and violent underclass so be it - I would much prefer it is used more regularly to keep drugs and weapons off our streets. I would imagine that if a toe rag knows he or she is about to be searched it could be relatively easy to ditch something before the search and this would obviously affect the success rate which regularly gets adversely reported upon. Surely this is a power to be used by Police on the streets but unfortunately we only see the Police stopping soft traffic to get a breathalyser or targeting their resources on so called domestic abuse because it is politically correct - and probably when they do arrive at an incident it is mostly over and the miscreants have vanished. As for the reported comment "with reasonable grounds for the intrusion" - surely that criteria has always been in place. House with no name
  • Score: 3

11:09am Tue 29 Apr 14

ChannelX says...

The statistics are meaningless unless we are told the breakdown of ethnicity of the percentages of people stopped who are subsequently charged with an offence.

If one percentage is higher than the other, it is entirely correct and appropriate that those who fit the profile would be stopped and searched more often.
The statistics are meaningless unless we are told the breakdown of ethnicity of the percentages of people stopped who are subsequently charged with an offence. If one percentage is higher than the other, it is entirely correct and appropriate that those who fit the profile would be stopped and searched more often. ChannelX
  • Score: 3

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