Saturday, July 02 2016

Police should face prosecution for abuse of stop and search powers

 The Observer yesterday reported on comments by an adviser to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry who stated that policemen who abuse stop and search powers to target Blacks and Asians should face prosecution for wasting police time and misusing public resources. 

From The Observer:
“Officers who abuse their powers of stop-and-search to further a racist agenda should be prosecuted for wasting police time, according to a member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel.

“Dr Richard Stone, a leading adviser to the judge who produced the landmark Macpherson report in 1999, which concluded that the Metropolitan police was institutionally racist, said officers who targeted suspects on grounds of their skin colour alone should be charged with misusing public resources.
“Stone said such a move would improve public confidence in stop and search, a police power that is under increasing scrutiny over claims of "racial profiling". He added: "It is a crime to waste police time in this country. A racist officer is an incompetent officer, and if they're wasting police time they should be charged."

The Guardian states that last week’s sentencing of two men for the killing of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 has, “renewed the focus on stop and search, a policing tool criticised during the public inquiry into the teenager's murder.”
“Macpherson's report, which condemned the Met for failing to defuse tensions between police and the black community, identified stop and search as an issue, highlighting disparities in its use, including unrecorded and temporary stops of vehicles driven by black or Asian people.
The article cites figures which illustrate that in the years since the Macpherson Inquiry, police powers were even more likely to unfairly discriminate against black people in 2009 -10 that in 1999.
The article continues:

“Dr Michael Shiner, of the Mannheim Centre for Criminology at the London School of Economics, said: "With fewer than one in 10 of these searches leading to an arrest, large numbers of mainly young black people are being unnecessarily criminalised, fuelling a sense of alienation and creating a more damaged and divided society."
“The coalition government has also weakened accountability safeguards, removing the national requirement to record, stop and account, which was introduced in 2005, a key recommendation of the Macpherson report.”

In December last year, the Home Secretary announced a national review of police powers to stop and search. Stop and search powers 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.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 January 2012 15:37

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