Published on February 6, 2014
Photo credit: Janine Wiedel/ REX Stop and search An investigation by the Police and Crime Committee
“I feel angry because I haven’t done anything bad so I think ‘why’s the police officer picking on me?’ And I’ve done good stuff for the community.” Participant in stop and search focus groups 1 Stop and search allows the police to search people for evidence they are committing a crime, such as weapons, drugs or stolen property. Stop and search has a difficult history and is causes tension between the Met police and some Londoners. This affects the police’s ability to do their job.
“When I arrived, one of the things I said I was concerned about was stop search. I thought we could probably do less and be more effective. That is what we hope we have been able to prove.” Sir Bernard HoganHowe, Commissioner, Metr opolitan Police 2 The Met has introduced a new approach to stop and search known as StopIt. The Commissioner wants stop and search to be focused on tackling serious crimes. It means that searches should be based on better intelligence, making it better targeted on those who are committing crimes.
The number of searches has fallen, while arrest rates have risen Number of searches per month (PACE) 3 Stop & search arrest rate (%) Nov-13 Oct-13 0% Sep-13 0 Aug-13 2% Jul-13 5,000 Jun-13 4% May-13 10,000 Apr-13 6% Mar-13 15,000 Feb-13 8% Jan-13 20,000 Dec-12 10% Nov-12 25,000 Oct-12 12% Sep-12 30,000 Aug-12 14% Jul-12 35,000 Jun-12 16% May-12 40,000 Apr-12 18% Mar-12 45,000 Feb-12 20% Jan-12 50,000 “They’ve gone about it the right way: they’ve cut down the amount of people that they stop and search, it’s not obviously as frequent, and they only do it when they need to do it.” Participant in stop and search focus groups It is now carrying out fewer searches but the ones they do are more effective. The total number of stops has fallen by over 40% in two years and 15% of people that are searched are arrested.
“I’m still quite sceptical, to be honest… I think some of these figures, I don’t quite believe them, really.” Participant in stop and search focus groups 4 The police are meant to record every stop they make. Anything less than full recording is a failure but the Met knows that this doesn’t always happen. The public need to be confident that this is happening or the Met may undermine the progress it is making.
“They just say ‘you're in a drug infested area and you've got a hood on so we're stopping and searching you.'” Participant in stop and search focus groups 5 Some Met officers continue to stereotype and therefore aren’t following the rules about when they can stop and search people. The Mayor must work with the Met to make sure officers are held to account for how they use their powers.
“I’m not saying all police officers are disrespectful, b ut you get the ones, around here you get the ones most of the time who are disrespectful” Participant in stop and search focus groups 6 Some officers sidestep people’s rights when they are stopped and searched. The Mayor and Met leaders must show that they expect police officers to respect these rights and should do more to build these into the Met’s processes.
“Making a complaint against the police is very difficult… I think there is not a willingness to go forward through the complaints procedure or any trust or faith in the complaints procedure.” Estelle du Boulay, Newham Monitoring Project 7 The complaints system does not work for stop and search. The Met wants and needs public feedback if it is to improve. The Mayor needs to support the Met to get more information from the public so that the Met can learn from complaints.
“It shows that the police are really working their backsides off to get better relationships with young people and people in the community. They don't want to be hated, because they’ve had a lot of hate towards them but now they really want to change that.” Participant in stop and search focus groups 8 Many young people are impressed when they see the changes that the Met has achieved. But the Met needs to work more effectively with young people to and do more to tell the community what it is doing to make stop and search better.
9 Recent events show that some parts of the community still don’t trust the police. Turning the tide will be challenging and requires the Met to keep going with efforts to improve stop and search. For more details about all of the recommendations in our report please visit: www.london.gov.uk/assembly
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