Stop and Search Powers: Are the Police using them effectively?
Following a critical report on the police use of stop & search from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, John Dwyer is seeking public views on Stop & Search.
The HMIC inspection, which focussed on the Stop and Search experiences found that ‘some of the most intrusive and contentious powers are those of stop and search and that inappropriate use of these powers has tarnished the relationship between constables and the communities they serve. There is surprisingly little attention paid by either the police service or the public to how effective stop and search powers are in reducing or detecting crime.’
In excess of a million stop and search encounters have been recorded every year since 2006, but of these less than 10% led to an arrest in 2011/12.
The report found that Cheshire conducted the third lowest amount of stop and searches nationally at 3.5 per 1000 population compared to a national average for England and Wales of 20.9. However, of these searches, 11% resulted in an arrest. This is above the national average of a 9% arrest to search rate.
Of the searches conducted 14% were related to drugs, 9% were for offensive weapons and 28% were for stolen property, or for going equipped to commit burglary.
Findings of the HMIC commissioned YouGov survey found that Cheshire residents generally looked on stop and search more favourably than the national average.
The National picture suggests that few forces could demonstrate that use of stop and search powers was based on an understanding of what works best to cut crime; and rarely was it targeted at priority crimes in their areas.
John Dwyer said, "I am delighted that the figures for Cheshire show that officers are using intelligence to target their activity and fewer stops are leading to more arrests, but we cannot rest on our laurels. I have asked the Constabulary to review the way in which officers use their stop &search powers and they have developed an action plan which I will consider regularly. I know that the government supports the ability of police officers to stop and search suspects, but it must be applied fairly and in a way that builds community confidence in the police and that leads to real results. A consultation on how police use stop and search powers has been launched by Home Secretary Theresa May who has asked whether the power is over-used, or if people are targeted when they do not need to be. I want to make sure that my response to the Home secretary is based on public opinion. I represent the views of the people of Cheshire and I am asking them to take 5 minutes, whether they have been stopped by the police or not, to give me their views via an online survey."
The survey can be found at www.cheshire-pcc,gov.uk