Stop and Search: it’s quality not just quantity, says Assembly

06 February 2014

A sustained effort to improve the quality as well as reduce the quantity of the Met’s use of stop and search is needed if community relations are to be bolstered and police effectiveness improved in the long-term, a new report by the London Assembly has found.

The report by the Police and Crime Committee [1] welcomes the Met’s recent success in cutting the number of searches undertaken by a third while nearly doubling the arrest rate resulting from stops [2].

These changes were found to have a positive impact on the attitudes of some young people towards the police with one focus group participant saying:

It shows that the police are really working their backsides off to get better relationships with young people and people in the community. They don't want to be hated, because they’ve had a lot of hate towards them but now they really want to change that.” [3]

But the report also found that the quality of searches remains too variable and record keeping is patchy with stops going unrecorded. The Met’s leadership still has some way to go to convince every officer that the intelligence led and respectful use of stop and search is essential to the long-term effectiveness of policing. Its use has implications for every Londoner, as poor encounters affect the public’s willingness to talk to the police and cooperate with investigations.

Jenny Jones AM, who chaired the Committee’s investigation, said:

“While the heavy handed use of stop and search has seen a welcome decline, 800 people a day are still searched by the Met without any resulting arrest. You have to ask if this is a good use of police time and resources.”

“If those stops are made without good reason, and just as importantly if they are conducted without common courtesy, that’s 800 Londoners, plus their friends and families, with a potential grievance against the police.

“The Met cannot afford to alienate another generation of young people by officers’ heavy handed use of their powers. The leadership at Scotland Yard appears to understand that, now they have to convince every one of their officers to put that into practice.”

The report recommendations seek to:

Secure public confidence in stop and search data by ensuring full and accurate recording and reporting of stop and search.

  • Ensure that the Met uses it powers according to the rules through better oversight of stop and search records.
  • Help people to understand their rights to empower them to challenge poor practice.
  • Support the Met’s efforts to increase the volume of feedback they receive about stop and search by improving public awareness of community monitoring groups.
  • Strengthen scrutiny of how the Met uses stop and search by clarifying MOPAC’s role in holding the Met to account.
  • Improve officers’ understanding of why the quality of stop and search matters by formally including young people in stop and search training.

Notes to editors

  1. Stop and Search: An investigation of the Met’s new approach to stop and search
  2. Stop and search excluding S60: January 2012 stop and search 45,636 , arrest rate 9%. November 2013 stop and search 27,067, arrest rate 15%
  1. See Research into young Londoners’ experiences and perceptions of stop and search.
  2. The Police and Crime Committee is responsible for examining the activities of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and investigating matters it considers to be of importance to policing and crime reduction in London.
  3. The Police and Crime Committee is established under s32 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

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