The statistics show that black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people. Why is this? Home Secretary Theresa May is on a mission to find out. A 12-week consultation, extended initially from 6-weeks, is under-way to review the stop and search powers of the police.
The consultation will follow the publication of a report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary into the effectiveness of the current stop-and-search laws.
At present, only 9% of the 1.2 million stop-and-search incidents that take place lead to an arrest. In some areas, for example Cumbria, it’s as low as 3%. This raises the obvious question of whether the police are using their powers wisely and effectively. Not only does the misuse of such powers lead to a lack of confidence in the police force, but also a huge waste of police time; the Home Secretary stated that it took 16 minutes for a police officer to conduct a stop-and-search and complete the necessary paperwork. There is a suggestion that a target of 20% is achievable following the adoption of a more intelligence-led approach.
A LSC/Guardian report into the 2011 London riots identified the operation of stop-and-search laws as being a key cause.
More on the consultation can be found here.
The consultation closes on 24th September and can be found here. Watch this space for an analysis of the outcome.