Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Stop and search powers could be extended to tackle acid attacks

Officers can stop and search individuals they suspect of being in possession of a corrosive substance and intent on causing injury. Photo: PA

Police will be handed strengthened stop and search powers under a proposed crackdown on acid attacks and crimes involving drones or lasers.

The Home Office confirmed it will consult on widening the circumstances in which the tactics can be used.

Officers can currently stop and search individuals they suspect of being in possession of a corrosive substance and intent on causing injury.

The proposed extension will allow police to search anyone they suspect of carrying a corrosive in a public place.

Ministers say the move – first mooted as part of a blueprint to tackle serious violence earlier this year – will enable forces to take better preventative action.

In addition, experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have been commissioned to develop a portable kit so that police can test suspected corrosive substances on the street.

Acid attacks have become more common, especially in London. Credit: PA

Announcing the new proposals, Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “A bottle of acid can be as lethal as a knife or a firearm, and these new powers will enable police officers to prevent these despicable thugs from carrying out their terrible crimes.

“The Home Secretary has been clear that stop and search is a vital and effective policing tool when used correctly.”

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Kearton, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for corrosive attacks, backed the proposals.

“Officers should be confident to use stop and search – proportionately and respectfully – because it’s an important investigative tool,” she said.

The Government unveiled proposals to extend stop and search powers to cover offences relating to misuse of drones and laser pointers. Credit: PA

The Government also unveiled proposals to extend stop and search powers to cover offences relating to misuse of drones and laser pointers.

Figures show there were 93 near-misses between drones and manned aircraft last year.

Critical national infrastructure, sensitive sites, defence establishments, large-scale events and crowded public places face a potential threat from “criminal or hostile drone activity”, the Home Office said.

The department also highlighted growing concerns over lasers being pointed at aircraft, with more than 1,000 reported instances annually since 2010.

Reforms to stop and search took place in 2014. Credit: PA

In the year to March 2017, police in England and Wales carried out 303,845 stops and searches – the lowest number since current data records started in 2001/02.

The tactics have repeatedly attracted controversy, amid criticism they unfairly focused on black and minority ethnic individuals.

Reforms were introduced in 2014 by then home secretary Theresa May to ensure stop and search was used in a more targeted way.