Policing minister calls for officers to conduct more stop and searches

Police officers must carry out more stop and searches to address knife crime as the tactic is “not used nearly often enough”, according to the policing minister.

Chris Philp said that police forces cannot afford to “tiptoe around using these powers in an aim to appease”.

Officers need reasonable suspicion to carry out a stop and search. The latest government figures, in the year ending March 2022, show black people were five times as likely to be stopped as white people, with 27.2 stops per 1,000 black people against 5.6 per 1,000 white people.

Deployment of the tactic has increased generally from a low of 280,000 in 2017, after successive home secretaries reversed the restrictions imposed by Theresa May a decade ago. However, use by the Metropolitan police has continued to fall.

Earlier this month, Mark Rowley, the Met commissioner, pledged to increase its use after admitting it had fallen partly because of officers’ lack of “confidence”, amid fears of “complaints, the investigation they get and whether they feel supported behind it”.

Writing in the Telegraph, Philp said: “The police must use the powers available to them without fear or favour. I want to see them take a robust approach and this starts with increasing the use of stop and search.

“In today’s climate police stop and search is the best foot forward, we know this. What we can’t do is tiptoe around using these powers in an aim to appease. The first priority must always be prevention and public safety.”

Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected as mayor of London earlier this month, has said overusing the power undermined public confidence in the police. He has pledged “do all in my power to further cut its use”.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has backed stop and search as “an extremely important tool” against knife crime but said it must also be done in an “effective and fair way” because of community concerns.

In February, the Guardian reported that eight Met officers were under investigation after a black 16-year-old was stopped six times in five months, on each occasion with nothing criminal found.

One stop took place outside the boy’s mother’s house, another outside his grandmother’s house, one in a chicken shop and another by Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The Guardian

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