Belfast Telegraph

28,000 people in Northern Ireland stopped and searched - 7% arrested

Police carried out more than 28,000 stop and searches in Northern Ireland last year
Police carried out more than 28,000 stop and searches in Northern Ireland last year

More than 28,000 people in Northern Ireland were stopped and searched by police in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Statistics from the PSNI show a total of 28,116 people were subject to the procedure from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 - a 6% drop from the previous year.

Some 7% (1,965) of all stops resulted in an arrest.

In Northern Ireland, individuals can be stopped and searched by police under a range of legislation, including the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Order, the Terrorism Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The vast majority of cases (17,081) in the last year were performed under the Misuse of Drugs Act - amounting to six out of every 10 stops.

Almost 90% of all those stopped were men.

Belfast saw the most amount of cases with 8,141 people stopped, followed by the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council area with 4,008.

Earlier this year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the PSNI has paid out almost £55,000 in compensation connected to stop and search operations in the north-west in the past four years.

PSNI Superintendent Alan Hutton said police were "fully committed to ensuring the fair, effective and legitimate use of stop and search powers".

"We are mindful of the impact such powers have on the community and we seek to ensure all of our interactions are professional, respectful and courteous," he added.

"Members of the public have a number of ways to voice their concerns about police actions. One is legal action, which can, in certain circumstances, result in the payment of compensation if a court upholds a complaint."

Last year, Londonderry republican Steven Ramsey lost a High Court challenge against the police after being stopped and searched more than 150 times under anti-terrorism legislation over the course of four years.

In August 2018, it emerged that "Stop and Search zones" are being planned for any area within one mile of Northern Ireland's border after Brexit.

The measure is part of the government's Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which was given Royal Assent in February.

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