Stop and search under review

Home Secretary Theresa May will today announce a review into the police use of controversial stop and search powers.

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Stop and search review 'important for public confidence'

Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

The fact that just 9% of stop-and-searches lead to an arrest clearly demonstrates that the current system is not working.

Under the last Government, stop-and-search spiralled out of control, with hundreds of thousands of innocent people stopped and searched without any good reason.

If public confidence in the police is to be maintained, these sort of powers must be used in a far more targeted way and the pilot schemes already undertaken demonstrate this is possible without jeopardising public safety.

Today's statement is an important step towards ensuring the public, particularly people from ethnic minorities, can have confidence that they can walk the streets without fearing they will be subject to further unjustified use of stop-and-search powers.

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Study: Black people six times as likely to be stopped

In 2010, the government's equality watchdog released a report on the use of stop and search powers in 42 policing areas over five years.

The report concluded that "racial stereotyping and discrimination are significant factors" in the varying rates at which people are stopped and searched.

  • Black people six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people
  • Asian people twice as likely to be stopped and searched than white people
  • Some of the highest racially disproportionate rates were seen in the West Midlands, Thames Valley, West Mercia and South Yorkshire

A follow-up trial with five police forces found that they were able to reduce their use of stop and search power by up to 50 percent while continuing to see a reduction in crime rates.

Home Secretary to announce review of stop and search powers

A review of controversial stop-and-search powers of police is expected to be unveiled today by the Home Secretary.

Theresa May, who is understood to have a particular interest in stop and search and its use, is set to announce a fresh consultation on the powers to ensure they are being used fairly.

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

The move comes just a few weeks after the government's equality watchdog said police forces are being fairer and more efficient in their use of stop-and-search powers.

Research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that five forces, including the Metropolitan Police, had reduced their use of the powers without compromising crime reduction.

Previous surveys have also suggested that black and Asian men are stopped far more often than other sections of the population.

Mrs May has also asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to report on how the police use these powers and their report is due within a few weeks.

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