Monday, June 27 2016

Theresa May announces national review of police stop and search

 Theresa May has announced that a national review of police stop and search powers is to be carried out by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The Guardian reports the Home Secretary’s remarks on the review of police powers made during the Reading the Riots conference at the London School of Economics yesterday, where the Guardian/LSE study on the causes of the recent UK-wide riots was launched: 

From the Guardian:
“Theresa May has announced a national review of how police use stop and search powers in response to the findings of the Guardian/LSE report on the August riots.

“The Reading the Riots research found that anger at the police was a major fuel for the London riots, with 86% of rioters citing policing as an important or very important factor in causing the disturbances.
“May said police were right to stop and search those caught in the riots as often as they did, but said use of the controversial tactic should be proportionate.
“"Should we worry that the rioters were eight times more likely than the average Londoner to be stopped and searched, when the research found young rioters were 22 times more likely than their peers to have been convicted of a crime?" she asked.
“"I strongly believe that stop and search should be used proportionately, without prejudice, and with the support of local communities … and I have asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to look at best practice on stop and search."
“May rejected rioters' assertions that the unrest was linked to alienation from the police or the government, dismissing concerns raised in the research report as "excuses".
“A spokesperson for the Riots Communities and Victims Panel said: "We are very pleased that the home secretary has asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to review best practice on stop and search, which was a recommendation in our interim report.”
“"We spoke to communities about stop and search on our visits to 17 areas affected by the August riots, and three areas that were not.
“"We discovered that if stop and search is not conducted correctly and with courtesy there is a risk that widespread support for it in communities will be eroded.
“"This was not an issue simply raised by rioters. Individuals, young and old and from all backgrounds, told us it must be addressed to improve relationships between the public and the police."”

Police powers to stop and search have come under sustained criticism from human rights organisations, equality bodies and parliamentary bodies.
Government statistics for 2010/2011 on stop and search under the Terrorism Act 2000 show that while there has been a large fall in stop and searches carried out under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, stop and search under section 43 have increased.

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