The extension of stop and search powers are underway, as Sajid Javid plans officers to be able to stop anyone suspected of carrying acid without a good reason. Currently, police can only do so when they have evidence that a person is about to cause an injury. The home secretary is also pushing for police to be able to stop and search people carrying laser pointers and drones.
This comes during pressures to tackle violent crime in city centres. Stabbings, shootings and violent attacks are rising. According to the Office for National Statistics, 5.3 million crimes were recorded in 2017, up 14%.
Government launching consultations to change law regarding stop and searches via targeting acid, drones and laser pointers, is a result of growing concern regarding violent crime. The consultation aims to change the reasonable grounds needed to legally justify stop and searches.
Currently, a community support officer can stop and question you; if they are not in uniform they must show a warrant card. An officer has the power to stop and search, if they have grounds to suspect you are carrying illegal drugs, weapons, stolen property, or something which could be used to commit a crime, e.g. a crowbar.
You can be stopped and searched without any grounds, if a senior police officer has approved the action. If you are suspected of serious violence, carrying a weapon or have used one, or you are in a specific area or location, this can take place.
The use of stop and searches declined during 2008 to 2017, with 1.5 million reports in 2008/2009, to 304,000 in 2016/2017.
Merseyside Police Chief Constable Andy Cooke drew a link between the decline of stop and searches, and the rise of violent crime.
Due to there being less police officers and more reluctance to engage in stop and search, criminals feel safe carrying guns and knives.
Senior police officers are reluctant to use such measures, fearing racist or discrimination accusations, after the home secretary discovered that black men were eight times more likely than white men to be stopped by police.
According to statistics from the Use of Force Dataset, the Met police used force 62,000 times in 2017-2018, with more than a third of incidents involving black people. According to this data, a black person in London is four times more likely to have forced used against them, as proportion to population.
Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Sara Thornton stated officers “feel overly cautious about using a power that has been subject to so much political debate.” Sara suggests that body worn cameras will “increase confidence that powers are being used properly.”
Commissioner at Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick, stated the success rate for stop and searches was the same across all races, and that a third of searches find banned items in London.
Acid is not classified at the moment; an extension of power to this would be very helpful for us. Drones are used by criminals, and officers should be able to look for them.
A Home Office spokeswoman said:
As outlined in the serious violent crime strategy we are looking at ways to strengthen police powers to identify individuals carrying corrosive substances.
We at Ison Harrison are always on hand to ensure that you have access to a qualified representative able to give you strong and timely advice. It is perfectly reasonable, when you are stopped, for you to act what powers the Police are exercising. The Officers should tell you.
Emergency 24 hour arrest helpline: 0113 399 6181