The second report on stop and search by the HMIC named, Stop & Search 2 (published on the 24th March 2015) is rightly damning of forces across the country for their significant lack of progress in the area of stop and search.
In 2013 the HMIC undertook a review of how forces were using this power and made 10 critical recommendations with the aim of improving service delivery and increasing community trust and confidence in what has always been a critical area of policing for BAME communities.
What has become clear from the new report, stop & search 2, is that Senior Officers have failed to appreciate the significant impact stop & search can have on the lives of those subjected to it and how entire communities can be affected by its continuing poor use.
In the two years since the HMIC’s first report, forces have only managed to achieve just one out of ten recommendations made by the HMIC to improve their use of stop and search.
How can it be that in London a situation has been allowed to develop unchecked whereby in some Boroughs such as Kingston and Richmond upon Thames that for every 1000 black people in those Boroughs, there will be over 100 stop searches on this community alone? These figures represent more than 1 in 10 of every black person.
At the same time, violent crime in London has risen by 22% in just one year alone, and despite robbery & burglary numbers remaining high, the overwhelming majority of stop & searches are for drugs and are clearly not intelligence led.
We also welcome the HMIC finally looking at those stops conducted under the Road Traffic Act which have for far too long been used inappropriately and as a false means to stop young black and minority ethnic individuals. The HMIC now recognise that black people are more likely to be stopped and have their vehicles searched compared to any other racial group. Despite this, there is currently no requirement for these stops to be recorded and clearly they have been abused. This cannot be allowed to continue.
All Forces have signed up to the ‘best use of stop and search’ being delivered by the College of Policing however there has been no measured improvement. What is the government waiting for? There has been more than ample opportunity however racial harmony does not feature high enough on the agenda.
Forces including the Met have the ability to identify who officers are stopping, so why don’t they hold these officers to account where there is evidence of disproportionality? There must be greater intervention from Borough Commanders, Supervisors and line managers in addressing the issue of disproportionality. How else will the Police be able to build trust in our communities?
Janet Hills, MetBPA Chair says, ‘’Enough is enough. The time has now come for Chiefs Constables to hold individual officers to account. Where there is clear evidence that officers are abusing their powers action should be taken to address this. This is not institutional, it’s individual’’.