Theresa May launches police stop and search review

Police stop and search a man in Brixton, south London.
Police stop and search a man in Brixton, south London. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Winning

The Home Secretary has unveiled a review of the controversial stop-and-search powers of police.

Theresa May announced a fresh consultation on the powers to ensure they are being used fairly.

ITV News UK Editor Lucy Manning reports:

Mrs May said that the number of stop-and-search incidents that lead to arrest are "far too low for comfort," telling the House of Commons that more than one million stop-and-searches are recorded every year but on average only about 9% of the incidents result in an arrest.

Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons.
Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons.

In addition, Mrs May said statistics show that people from black or ethnic minority backgrounds are up to seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than if they are white.

The Government is concerned about the use of stop-and-search for two reasons. First, it must be applied fairly and in a way that builds community confidence in the police, rather than undermining it.

And second, given the scale of recording requirements placed on the police, when stop-and-search is misapplied, it is a waste of police time.

– Theresa May, Home Secretary

A teenager who claims to have been stopped and searched "more than 20 times" told ITV News he welcomes the government's decision to review the policy.

Kenny Ladipo, 19, claimed that he had been stopped an "uncountable" amount of times but still backed the controversial powers.

Kenny Ladipo claims he was stopped and searched more than 20 times.
Kenny Ladipo claims he was stopped and searched more than 20 times. Credit: ITV News

The review has been widely welcomed both by civil liberties groups and police.

After years of bad and counterproductive practice, it's encouraging that the Home Secretary is waking up to concerns about stop and search. Lax powers have failed to increase public safety and only alienated the young.

But whether it's snooping or stopping and searching, warm words and guidance are no substitute for tightening up the law.

– Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

We welcome the opportunity to be part of the consultation process regarding this necessary and effective tool to reduce crime and increase public safety.

Any decision to invoke stop-and-search powers must be justified and officers must be accountable for the decisions they make as part of their commitment to policing by consent.

In our view this tool is essential - however if there are ways in which it can be further improved without a reduction in public safety, then we are keen to take part in the debate.

– Steve Williams, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales