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Theresa May admits 'concern' over stop and search

The Home Secretary told the House of Commons she had "long been concerned about the use of stop and search".

Theresa May admits 'concern' over stop and search

Theresa May said: "While it is undoubtedly an important police power, when it is misused stop and search can be counter-productive

"First, it can be an enormous waste of police time. Second, when innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public. In those circumstances it is an unacceptable affront to justice."

Read: Police stop and search powers to be revamped

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Police stop and search powers to be revamped

Police will face disciplinary action if they fail to stick to a revamped code of practice for using controversial stop and search powers, the Home Secretary has told the House of Commons.

Police could face disciplinary action. Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Theresa May told MPs that fresh legislation on stop and search will only be introduced if forces fail to comply with the new guidance. She said officers will need to pass a rigorous new assessment of how stop and search powers are used.

If they do not pass the test they will be stripped of being able to use the powers. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found 27% of stop and searches examined by the watchdog did not contain reasonable grounds for suspicion.

Yvette Cooper: 'Too many searches are not targeted'

Yvette Cooper's intervention comes after claims David Cameron blocked plans drawn up by Home Secretary Theresa May to significantly curb the use of the controversial power.

In a letter to Mrs May, Ms Cooper said:

[This issue] goes to the heart of people's trust in the police and the misuse of stop-search has the potential to undermine effective community policing.

I hope that you will not give in to the Prime Minister's opposition to change.

Everyone agrees that the police need to have powers to stop and search individuals suspected of crime or to prevent a serious threat.

Intelligence-led targeting of suspected criminals helps to cut knife crime and youth killings.

However, while targeted action helps cut crime, the reality is too many searches are not targeted at all

Ms Cooper alludes to figures that show 27% of the 8,783 stop and search records reviewed by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary between October 2012 and April 2013 did not include sufficient grounds to justify the lawful use of the power.

'Shameful' stop and search impact on ethnic minorities

The impact of stop and search powers on ethnic minority communities is "shameful" and reform is urgently needed, the shadow home secretary has said.

A man is stopped and searched. Credit: Katie Collins/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Labour's Yvette Cooper has called for an overhaul of stop and search powers, including a ban on targets for stop and searches being given to officers. Ms Cooper also wants current guidance on avoiding race discrimination replaced with legislation.

Majority of police 'do not understand stop and search'

The report says forces have not developed an understanding into how to use stop and search to prevent crime. Credit: Reuters

An inspection by the police watchdog into how forces in England and Wales use stop and search powers has found that the vast majority of them - 30 out of the 43 surveyed - had not developed an understanding of how to use the powers so that they are effective in preventing and detecting crime.

Only seven forces actually recorded whether or not the item searched was actually found, and half of forces did nothing to understand the impact the searches had on communities.

Read: Black people six times more likely to be stopped under stop and search powers, study finds

The report, produced by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), comes as the Home Secretary announced a review of the controversial powers.

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Only 9% of stop and searches lead to arrest

Officers spend an average of 300,000 hours conducting stop and searches, but on average only about 9% of the one million incidents recorded result in an arrest, a review has found.

Police are able to conduct stop and searches under 20 different powers, but the most common laws used are:

  • The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE)
  • The Misuse of Drugs Act
  • The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

The PACE act code of practice sets the standards intended to protect the public from the incorrect and unlawful use of these intrusive powers.

Under PACE forces are required to make arrangements for stop and searches to be scrutinised by the public, however the police watchdog found that less than half of all police forces in England and Wales comply with this.

Officers 'not adhering to stop and search guidance'

Police officers are not adhering to the legal guidance on the power to stop and search, with the result that more than a quarter of searches conducted are "unlawful" according to a review by police watchdog Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

HM Inspector of Constabulary Stephen Otter said:

Officers are not adhering to the guidance on too many occasions. It has slipped down the chief constables' agenda since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report.

Read: Stop and search power used 'unlawfully' in 275 of cases

Stop and search power used 'unlawfully' in 27% of cases

Police have been over using their 'stop and search' power, the police watchdog revealed.
Police have been over using their 'stop and search' power, the police watchdog revealed. Credit: Press Association

The first inspection into the use of stop and search powers has found that police are using the power unlawfully in more than a quarter of instances.

After renewed concern about the way police use stop and search on the back of the 2011 riots, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) to conduct its first ever inspection of the use of the powers in all 43 forces in England and Wales.

Read: Theresa May launches police stop and search review

The watchdog found that around 27% of 8,783 stop and search records examined did not include sufficient grounds to justify the use of the power.

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