The welcome news is that all 43 police forces in the UK have agreed to adopt a new policy for the exercise stop and search powers.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May has previously identified that regular abuse of the power to stop and search was damaging relations between the police and the public. In addition, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary recently found that 27% of stop and searches did not satisfy the requirement that there be "reasonable grounds for suspicion." Alarmingly, this may mean that more than 250,000 of the one million searches conducted last year were illegal.
In particular, the contentious ‘Section 60’ powers (that allow police to search people without any grounds for suspicion where there is a fear of violence/weapons being used in a certain area) will be curtailed and more senior authority will be needed to use them.
All searches will be recorded and public observers will be allowed to watch what happens in practice.
Searches will also be mapped from next year, allowing police and the public to see where (and why) certain areas of the country are more regularly subjected to searches than others. The public will be entitled to know why this is the case. This is all good news and should improve accountability and transparency in the use of this important power.
Andrew Guile, Solicitor/Director
Posted on Wednesday, 27th August 2014