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Police forces and stop and search scheme – improving practice

Police forces and stop and search scheme – improving practice

Categories: Latest News

Thursday September 22 2016

The Guardian today reports on Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary reports into thirteen police forces which were suspended from the Home Office ‘Best Use of Stop and Search’ scheme (BUSS) for failing to comply with at least three of the conditions in the scheme.

The former Home Secretary and current PM, Theresa May, launched the scheme as part of the review into police use of stop and search powers and the high volume of stops against BME people, as well as the low stop-to-arrest ratio.

The scheme was set up to ensure stop and searches were applied “fairly, transparently and effectively and in a way which builds community confidence” and required police forces to “take this opportunity to improve their performance”.

BUSS includes requirements for recording and publishing outcomes from stop and search, providing public observation on use of stop and search, explaining to the public how powers are being used following a large number of complaints, reducing the number of searches under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Acts, and monitoring the impact on BME groups and young people

In February, HMIC announced the 13 suspended forces would be revisited to monitor improvements. According to today’s announcement by HMIC, when the 13 forces were re-inspected in between June and August, “only six forces of the 13 were found to be compliant with all features of the scheme, with seven still not compliant.”

Today’s reports into the 13 forces shows that all thirteen are now fully compliant with the scheme. While forces are now abiding by the conditions of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, the issue of race disproportionality on BME communities and its impact on police-community relations still requires further work.

Mike Cunningham, a former chief constable who led the inspections for the revisits for HMIC, told the Guardian: “The figures for disproportionality are still pretty eye-watering.”

He said: “The big issue with stop and search, the issue of disproportionality, it has been around for many years. We are not saying that nothing has been done, but it is still a significant issue.”

Cunningham said police leaders need to find out why disproportionality is happening in their areas.

Last year, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said that there was “some justification” for the accusation the force was ‘institutionally racist’ because disproportionate stops against BME people persist without explanation.

He said: “If other people think we are institutionally racist, then we are. It’s no good me saying we’re not.”


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