Number searched under emergency powers doubles in a year
Police used blanket powers to stop and search more than twice as many people without grounds for suspicion last year than during the previous 12 months.
Section 60 of Criminal Justice and Public Order Act gives police the right to search people within a specific area and time period in order to prevent serious violence or disorder.
The number of people or vehicles searched under section 60 more than doubled from 44 to 94 in the year ending March 31 – resulting in three arrests for possession of offensive weapons.
Nationally, the number of searches went up by 35%, according to the Home Office.
Last August, the Home Secretary eased restrictions around emergency stop and search powers by reducing the level of authorisation, lowering the required degree of expectation of serious violence and extending the period of enforcement.
Police said section 60 authorisations were extremely rare in Suffolk – the last time being in the aftermath of a large disturbance in Norwich Road last November – and that percentage increases would, therefore, fluctuate significantly.
Earlier this year, constabulary figures showed that overall use of stop and search, under legislation requiring reasonable grounds of suspicion, increased 82% in the same period – from 1,992 to 3,632.
People from black ethnic groups were 3.8 times as likely to be stopped as white people.
Temporary Superintendent Simon Mills said section 60 required authorisation from a senior officer and was reserved for circumstances in which police believe serious violence will take place or has taken place, or where a person is carrying a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon.
“The last authorisation in Suffolk was in relation to the incident of violent disorder in Ipswich in November 2019,” he added.
“Before this, it was used in relation to an incident of violent disorder in May 2019 and in relation to a murder investigation in June 2018.
“Due to the limited amount of section 60 authorisations within Suffolk, the number of searches as measured by percentage will fluctuate significantly against a marginal increase or decrease in use. In actuality, the volume conducted remains low and a direct comparison of volume offers a more accurate reflection of its minimal use.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ipswich Star. Click the link in the orange box above for details.