Police review stop and search powers

First published in News by , Reporter

WILTSHIRE Police has announced it will be immediately implementing the national scheme designed to provide much greater transparency to the controversial stop and search policy.

The policy has often been accused of being discriminatory against ethnic minorities, especially the use of Section 60 powers, which required police officers no grounds of suspicion to search a suspect.

New rules mean that the use of Section 60 powers has been severely restricted and they can only now be authorised by the chief officer in extreme circumstances.

In addition, all cases where stop and search is used will be recorded and published so that the public can see the hotspots where police use the power.

All 43 police forces in the England will have to be compliant with these policy changes by November and Wiltshire Police will allow members of the public to observe them at work.

Theresa May, Home Secretary, said: “Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.

“It will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used and help local communities hold the police to account for their use of the powers.”

The Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police, Pat Geenty, hopes that the new intelligence led use of stop and search will decrease the 6,577 searches that were recorded in Wiltshire last year.

He said: “The best use of the stop and search scheme is designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve stop-to-arrest ratios and deliver a higher level of customer service to the residents of Wiltshire and Swindon.

“We will be providing further information to the public with the outcome of searches publicised via our force website and will interact more closely with members of the public via the lay observation.”

It is hoped that the new policy can restore the public’s confidence in the police force.

Chief executive of the College of Policing, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said: “There are many areas of good practice where stop and search has reduced, the quality of encounter has gone up and arrest ratios increased.

“The College will be sharing that across the country so that we see the changes needed to ensure that the communities we serve have confidence in their police officers to use these important powers proportionately, effectively and fairly."

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