Stop and Search

Meeting: 
MQT on 2018-11-22
Session date: 
November 22, 2018
Reference: 
2018/3525
Question By: 
Susan Hall
Organisation: 
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Can stop and search act as deterrent to knife crime?

Answer

Stop and Search

Stop and Search

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Could I also, Chairman, join with you in congratulating the Assembly Member on being elected the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group?

 

Susan Hall AM:  Thank you.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  When stop-and-search is based on real intelligence, properly focused and performed professionally, it is a vital tool to keep our community safe.  I have been clear that when knife crime and violence is increasing, we should expect targeted, intelligence-led stop-and-search to increase and I support our overstretched and under-resourced police officers using their powers effectively.

 

The law on stop-and-search is clear.  The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the accompanying PACE codes of practice establish the power of the police to combat crimes while protecting the rights of the public.  Under Section 1 of PACE, a police constable can stop and search any person or vehicle if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that someone is carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that can be used to commit a crime.  There is also power under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which allows a police officer to stop and search a person without suspicion.  Section 60 stop-and-searches can take place in an area where it has been authorised by a senior police officer on the basis of their reasonable belief that violence has or is about to occur and where it is expedient to provide it or search people for a weapon if one was involved in the incident.  As well as the potential deterrent effect of stop-and-search, it is also a vital tool for taking weapons off the streets and arresting offenders.

 

Stop-and-search has been going down across England and Wales including in London since 2011.  This year [2018] in London there have been over 19,000 arrests following someone been stopped and searched.  Stop‑and‑search has been increasing in London recently with around 1,000 more searches taking place in October compared to September [2018] and 1,200 more compared to October last year [2017].  We also know that these searches have been effective with around one in three resulting in a positive outcome including arrests, penalty notices and community resolutions.

 

However, stop-and-search must be monitored carefully.  I know from personal experience that when done badly, stop-and-search can seriously undermine confidence and harm community-police relations.  That is why I am pleased that since I became Mayor the MPS has had the biggest roll-out of body-worn videos anywhere in the world.  This new technology has been a gamechanger for police accountability.

 

We must also remember that stop-and-search is only part of the solution and we are doing many other things to tackle knife crime head-on.  The Violent Crime Task Force, which has been funded by City Hall, has 272 officers dedicated to tackling violent crime in the communities worst affected.

 

Vitally, we are doing more to tackle the root causes of violent crime.  Many of the causes of violent crime are extremely complex and involve deep-seated issues from poverty and social alienation to mental ill-health and a lack of opportunities.  That is why we have set up the new Violence Reduction Unit.  This new unit will complement our £45 million Young Londoners Fund, which offers young people positive alternatives to crime and helps those caught up in criminal gangs to get out of trouble and into employment and training.

 

I am confident, Chairman, that all our measures - tough policing, a public health approach and investing in opportunities for our young people - can make a real and positive difference, but it is not going to happen overnight and it will require the Government finally stepping up to properly fund our police, local councils and other public services.

 

Susan Hall AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  I am thrilled that you agree with tough policing because that is the way forward.  Do you agree with the Home Secretary [The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP] and the NPCC that it should be made easier for the police to use stop-and-search?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am not sure what he means by that.  Maybe you do.  What does he mean by that?

 

Susan Hall AM:  As an example, I was at the stop-and-search meeting in Harrow last night.  The police have to be so careful that they log everything.  One of the things that the police have said is there is no room on the forms for them to fit it in.  They can see a load of drugs paraphernalia around people and they do a stop‑and‑search, but because they do not have anything on their person they cannot put it down and so it is not a successful stop-and-search, as such.  It is a great shame that that cannot be changed because that they would have reason to stop somebody in that respect but it cannot be logged.  That is just as one example.

 

I am also interested in your thoughts.  These are Trevor Phillips’s [OBE] words and not mine, if I can make that clear.  As you remember, he was the boss of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Trevor Phillips [OBE] said that “‘white liberals’ need to stop ‘hand-wringing’ and admit the truth that the wave of knife crime is black children killing black children.”  He called for officers to target high-risk inner-city areas and to be exempt from laws which prevent them discriminating on the basis of someone's race or ethnic origin.

 

What are your comments around that?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I have never been a white liberal and so I am not really sure if I can talk to the experience Trevor Phillips [OBE] has of being a white liberal!  What I can tell you is that I remember last week the Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police [Adrian Hanstock] in the morning talking about the rules around stop-and-search being changed and on the same day the Minister [of State for Policing and the Fire Service, The Rt Hon] Nick Hurd [MP] distancing himself from any dilution of the rules around stop-and-search.  I am not sure if it is anybody’s intention for the Home Secretary [The Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP] or the Policing Minister [The Rt Hon Nick Hurd MP] to change the laws around stop‑and‑search.

 

Where you have a very good point is in relation to the “paperwork” involved sometimes.  The police find it really frustrating.  By the way, paperwork is there for a reason and the accountability is really important.  Question: can we make it easier for police officers in relation to the time they spend recording?  What you are alluding to is that there is stop-and-search and there is also stop-and-account.  I know the Commissioner [Cressida Dick CBE QPM] is looking at how some police forces do stop-and-account in a far more streamlined manner so that an officer is not reducing the time he or she is spending doing frontline policing because of “paperwork”.  That is one of the things the police are looking into in relation to streamlining the time they can spend.  You and I both want the maximum time of a police officer to be spent on the front line rather than doing sometimes important but sometimes quite resource-intensive paperwork.

 

That is why the tablets will make a difference.  Using the tablets we have given to officers is a lot quicker than going back to the police station and filling in a notebook and stuff.  We are hoping that some of these things will help.

 

Susan Hall AM:  In your original answer to my question, you said that you were pleased that stop-and-search was being increased, etc.  I will not repeat everything you said.  Before you were elected you did say that you would do everything in your power to cut stop-and-search.  Do you regret saying that now?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No, not at all.  It is worth reminding you of the figures I referred to.  Stop‑and-search has been going down since 2011.  The Mayor of London from 2011 until 2016 was not me.  The Home Secretary between 2011 and 2016 was not me.  The two people you may be referring to are [The Rt Hon] Theresa May MP [Prime Minister] and [The Rt Hon] Boris Johnson [MP].  What I welcome is the reduction in industrial-scale, indiscriminate stop-and-search.  What is a good thing is targeted, intelligence-led stop-and-search.

 

The gamechanger in London is the biggest roll-out of body-worn video of any police service in the world.  This body-worn video means that a police officer has the confidence when he or she is using this valuable tool to know it is being recorded so that the phenomenon of a vexatious complaint is not there, but also the individual knows the interaction is being recorded.  Since we have had the body-worn video, the number of complaints against the police has been low whilst, as you have said, the amount of targeted stop-and-search has increased.  That shows we are getting the best of both worlds: more intelligence-led stop-and-search, taking weapons off our streets and making arrests, but also at the same time the public having confidence in our police officers.

 

Susan Hall AM:  I know all about the cameras but I did ask you when the stop-and-searches were reducing and you still said, “I will do everything in my power to cut stop-and-search”.  I am sorry that you do not regret saying that.

 

The one thing is this.  Will you undertake to support our police if they increase stop-and-search?  Will you continue to support the police?  They do not have confidence that the politicians will not change their minds.  They need to know they have us 100% behind them when they increase stop-and-search.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I support our police, which is why I have spent the last two-and-a-half years arguing for more resources.  I support the police, which is why I do not ‑‑

 

Susan Hall AM:  I am talking about stop-and-search.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am not the one who goes to the police and says, “You are crying wolf”, when the police are warning ‑‑

 

Susan Hall AM:  I am referring specifically to stop-and-search, Mr Mayor.  You will support them, yes?  Just a yes would be great.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  If there are fewer officers, they are doing few stop-and-searches.  The problem is this.  You cannot expect there to be more stop-and-searches when there are fewer police officers.  What we want is our police officers, who, as we have said, are overstretched and under-resourced, to be able to use all the tools in their toolkit to keep us safe.

 

Susan Hall AM:  Maybe you should get on with recruiting them like you promised in February [2018].  Thank you, Chairman.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Chairman, I am not sure if that was a question or a comment.

 

Susan Hall AM:  It was a comment.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  If it was a question, which I think it would be because otherwise you would have ruled it out-of-order, the question was this: do I think that we should be recruiting police officers faster?  The answer, Chairman, is that we want more resources to able to recruit even more police officers faster.

 

Susan Hall AM:  Then put the money in.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  As it is, what I have managed to do using council tax and business rates is to have 1,000 more officers than would otherwise be the case.  What I am hoping the Government announces in the police settlement in the next few weeks is a reversal of the £1 billion worth of cuts but additional resources so that we can have even more police officers recruited even more quickly.

 

Tony Arbour AM (Chairman):  I am glad you saw that opportunity, Mr Mayor, to make that statement.