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Police to release detailed data on use of stop and search

Published 06/08/2015

British Transport Police are one of the forces revealing the stop and search details
British Transport Police are one of the forces revealing the stop and search details

Police forces will provide detailed data on their use of stop and search powers from today.

Residents will be able to see figures for the number of stops and their outcomes.

A total of 40 forces, including British Transport Police, will give information including the ethnicity and age of those stopped, on a monthly basis.

The data, released on summary pages on the police.uk website, will also cover the time of day stops are made.

Figures will be published alongside maps that allow the public to see where stop and searches took place, which are already provided by 25 forces.

The move is part of a drive by the Government to increase transparency over the controversial tactics.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Stop and search is undoubtedly an important police power.

"But when it is misused it can be counter-productive and an enormous waste of police time. If it is not operated in a targeted and proportionate way and if innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public."

She said the new pages " provide the public with a visual representation of how fairly and effectively stop and search is being used in individual police forces".

Mrs May added: "This is a further step forward in the Government's commitment to increasing the transparency of the police and ensuring the public can hold their force to account."

Officials disclosed that data collection for the new project has resulted in a number of forces reviewing the quality of their statistics and rectifying inaccuracies in their reporting.

For example, some forces were inputting the date of the stop and search rather than the individual's date of birth, which resulted in the appearance of a high number of searches of children under 10 years old when in fact the vast majority were actually adults.

Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, National Police Chiefs' Council lead on stop and search, said: "It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that, on a daily basis, officers utilising the stop and search power are finding weapons, stolen property and drugs.

"The people committing a criminal act by carrying these items are the same people who can make communities less safe, and police must have appropriate powers at their disposal to find and deal with them.

"It is, however, very important that this power is used with great care and precision, acting on intelligence and reasonable suspicion that a suspect is in possession of something they should not be."

He added: "Today's data shows that the police service is moving in the right direction and is committed both to making improvements and maintaining community confidence that we are utilising stop and search in the best possible way."

The most recent figures for England and Wales show the number of stops and searches has fallen by 31% since 2009/10.

Shadow policing minister Jack Dromey said: "For years we pressed Theresa May to act on mounting public concern over stop and search, an essential tool in fighting crime but a power that, if abused, can undermine community confidence in the police.

"It is welcome that there is now recognition of the importance of acting on intelligence and carrying the community with you.

"It is also right that the statistics are published so that the public know and the police can constantly work at getting the balance right between proper use and abuse."

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