Stop and Search in the UK
‘Stop and search’ is a police tactic used as a preventative measure for dealing with crime. Stop and search gives the police the power to stop individuals and search them if they believe the suspect to be holding any drugs, weapons, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime (eg a crowbar). They can only perform a stop and search if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ for this belief.
While we recognise stop and search may be an effective method to tackle some crimes, (for example, drug offences through the use of sniffer dogs that are unable to racially/ethnically profile suspects) stop and search also had many recorded negative effects on individuals and communities. It has been shown to damage confidence in police, particularly amongst young people and those from BAMER backgrounds. Officers often conduct stop and searches in an insulting, bullying manner, which leads to humiliation and frustration for the target. It can be very frustrating when somebody is repeatedly targeted.
Stop and searches should only be conducted if there is a STRONG suspicion of criminal activity.
Most members of any community are law-abiding, civic-minded citizens who have a direct and active interest in the safety of their streets. Police Officers should inspire confidence in every law-abiding citizen, and should never be a means of intimidation or humiliation.
Residents and local organisations with good links and knowledge of certain communities should be considered experts and that expertise should be exploited to ensure the police provide the best service. This can help foster a sense of partnership between police and community.
Regular local consultations and meetings with community leaders are essential to inform and help implement best practice. Mutually respectful relationships with community elders and leaders will help foster better overall community relations. Community relations work should include work within schools, and should be positive and encouraging. All school children in areas that are heavily targeted should be given sessions in PSHE explaining stop and search, the rationale behind it and what their civic rights and responsibilities are. School children should get a chance to share back their feelings and concerns. JAN Trust feels young people must be educated and feel involved in the process so it doesn’t feel unnecessary or unfair.