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West Midlands Police has launched two key elements of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, Home Secretary Theresa May announced today.

Anonymised stop and search recordWhile stop and search is undoubtedly an important police power, when it is misused it can be counter-productive. It can be an enormous waste of police time and, when innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and public.

The voluntary scheme, which was announced by the Home Secretary in April, is designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve stop-to-arrest ratios. It will also provide the public with further information on the outcome of searches. From today, West Midlands Police will:

– increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome; and

– restrict the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers. Already used only when necessary, under this scheme, the chief officer must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers. In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence “will” rather than “may” take place, as it stands now.

By November, West Midlands Police will fully comply with the scheme by:

– giving members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice; and

– introducing a community complaints trigger.

SW SSSP 3 Today the Home Secretary announced that all 43 police forces in England and Wales have signed up to the scheme and 24, including West Midlands Police, will implement the additional data recording and “no-suspicion” measures from today. All forces have committed to implement all aspects of the scheme by November.

West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito said, “Stop and Search was raised during the campaign and I know that it causes concern.  West Midlands Police has responded to these concerns with refresher training for officers, closer management oversight, electronic recording, stop and search scrutiny panels across the Force and plans to publish much more detailed information about its use of stop and search.  The Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme builds on this good work, particularly around use of the more controversial powers that do not require reasonable grounds.  Ensuring effective and appropriate use of stop and search will continue to be a key priority in the coming years.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

“Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.

“That is why I am delighted West Midlands Police will from today reform their use of stop and search powers under the new Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used and help local communities hold the police to account for their use of the powers.

Chief Superintendent Rick Burgess, force lead for stop and search, said: “West Midlands Police has worked extremely hard to achieve the significant improvements that we have made to the way in which we use stop and search.

“We are using this essential power in a proportionate and lawful manner, which is helping us to protect the public from criminals. We are pleased to participate in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme and recognise that the majority of the requirements of the scheme are already comfortably being met by the force.”

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