The voluntary scheme, which was announced by the Home Secretary in April, is part of a range of measures that will contribute to a reduction in the overall use of stop and search, and lead to better and more intelligence-led stop and searches and more effective outcomes.
Thirty-five forces, including West Midlands Police, will be implementing all aspects of the scheme to:
- 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
- restrict the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers;
- give members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice; and
- introduce a community complaints trigger − ensuring that complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Stop and search powers are vital in the fight against crime when used correctly. However, they must be applied fairly and only when needed − and in a way that builds community confidence rather than undermining it.
“West Midlands Police is dedicated to reforming their use of stop and search powers, saving officers’ time and increasing transparency within the local community. I’m delighted they have now fully implemented the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.
“Stop and search reforms are working. The number of searches is down under this government, by 15 per cent in the last year alone. But we cannot be complacent and must ensure that the public can hold the police to account for their use of these powers.”
Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann said: “We are proud of the significant improvements that we have made to the way in which we use stop and search.
“The additional training given to our front line officers and the introduction of a new recording system have greatly enhanced our ability to use the power proportionately and effectively.
“We are delighted to sign up to the national Best Use Scheme and will continue to work hard to ensure that stop and search continues to protect our communities.”
West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito said: “Stop and Search was raised during the recent election 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 and ensuring that there is effective local oversight.
“Ensuring effective and appropriate use of stop and search will continue to be a key priority in the coming years.”
The Home Secretary also announced today that British Transport Police will be joining the scheme before the end of the year. The Home Office is working with BTP to ensure that they are able to implement the scheme’s requirements early in the New Year.
From today, West Mercia and Nottinghamshire police will begin a pilot scheme that will digitally map stop and searches, identifying locations where stop and searches take place using geo-mapping technology.
The data will be uploaded to Police.uk so the public can monitor the use of stop and search powers.
And following an eight-week public consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code A, which governs the police’s use of stop and search, the Home Secretary will lay a revision to Code A in parliament this week. This revision will make clear to officers what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ and to emphasise that the misuse of stop and search powers would lead to performance or disciplinary procedures.
Listen to Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito discussing progress in improving use of Stop and Search by West Midlands Police:Back to News Archive