Stop and search controversy continues

According to research released by the Home Office, large increases in stop and search operations have no discernible effect on crime reduction.

22 MARCH 2016 | BY Hannah Lynes FOR UK HUMAN RIGHTS BLOG



The official study examined crime rates across 10 London boroughs in the first year of Operation Blunt 2, which led to a surge in the number of searches from 34,154 in the year before to 123,335 in 2008/2009.

The findings are likely to lend support to the position of the Home Secretary, Theresa May who in 2014 introduced new measures to curtail reliance on the powers. She has previously been critical of claims by the Metropolitan Police that a rise in knife crime in recent months is linked to a drop in the use of stop and search, warning against a "knee-jerk reaction."

Large increases stop search operations no discernible effect crime reduction

Large increases in stop and search operations have no discernible
effect on crime reduction.

Police powers to conduct the searches have proved highly controversial, with campaigners arguing that ethnic minority groups are disproportionately targeted. An analysis by the Independent found that between December 2014 and April 2015, black people were more likely to be stopped than white people in 36 out of 39 police forces.

However, a recent Supreme Court challenge to the power contained in section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 was unsuccessful. The Act permits a police officer to stop and search a person for offensive weapons, whether or not he has grounds for suspicion, when an authorisation from a senior police officer is in force.

The Court dismissed the claim that the power was not ‘in accordance with the law’ and in breach of article 8 ECHR, which requires the law to have sufficient safeguards against the risk that it will be used in an arbitrary or discriminatory manner. It held that safeguards, including the requirement to give reasons both for the authorisation and the stop and search, made it possible to judge whether the power had been exercised lawfully.

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