Continued resurgence in use of stop-and-search powers by Suffolk police
PUBLISHED: 18:00 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 18:00 03 July 2020
Police use of stop-and-search has increased to levels not seen since before the introduction of stricter guidance in 2014.
Suffolk officers used powers on 3,632 occasions in the 12 months to the end of March – compared to 1,992 during 2018/19.
Use of stop-and-search had fallen for consecutive years, but in 2018/19 rose for the first time since the introduction of the Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme in April 2014, when the government set out new guidance to achieve greater transparency, community involvement and a more intelligence-led approach.
In the 12 months before BUSS, Suffolk Constabulary used the powers on 5,884 occasions.
The annual figures were presented to the police and crime commissioner’s accountability and performance panel on Friday.
People from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, with a postal address in Suffolk, were 3.2 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
Almost 60% of searches resulted in nothing being found and no further action being taken.
The report said the increase in use of stop-and-search reflected the force’s proactive approach to identifying and preventing potential crime and disorder.
Last March, the Home Office bolstered powers in a bid to crack down on rising knife crime across the country, with then Home Secretary Sajid Javid also making it easier to use section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act – allowing officers to stop anyone in a designated area without reasonable grounds.
Numbers remain significantly lower than at their height in 2013/14 (5,884).
Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Stop-and-search is a legitimate policing tactic, but one that has to be fair, conform to regulations and enhance public confidence.”
External scrutiny of Suffolk’s use of the power comes from the Stop and Search Reference Group, which examines and discusses random dip sampling, and more recently, body-worn video footage.
Mr Passmore said the group had been held up as an example of best practice by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Jones said the increase reflected a deliberately intelligence led approach, with a quarter of searches resulting in weapons or drugs being found, compared to one in 10 a decade ago.
“These are genuinely impressive results which compare well with other forces,” he added.
“Only three people in every thousand will experience stop-and-search in Suffolk, compared to the national average of six in a thousand.”
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