Home Secretary Amber Rudd has re-admitted 13 previously suspended police forces to the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The scheme was launched in the summer of 2014 and requires member forces to demonstrate to the public that they’re using the powers of Stop and Search fairly, effectively and in a way that’s designed to build community confidence.
Requirements include recording the outcome of all stops (including whether there’s a link with the initial reason for the stop), restricting the use of Section 60 ‘no suspicion’ powers, community scrutiny of complaints and offering the public the chance to observe Stop and Search in action.
All 43 forces in England and Wales, as well as the British Transport Police, signed up to the scheme on a voluntary basis. However, an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2015 found 13 member forces were failing to meet three or more of the scheme’s requirements, and the (then) Home Secretary suspended their membership with immediate effect.
The 13 forces subject to a revisit inspection were Cambridgeshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northumbria, Staffordshire, South Wales, Warwickshire, West Mercia and Wiltshire.
HMIC has just published the findings of its re-inspection, which confirms that all 13 forces are now fully compliant with all features of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. The Home Secretary has therefore written to the chief constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) of these forces confirming that their scheme membership has been reinstated.
Amber Rudd commented: “This Government introduced the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme to ensure that forces apply these powers fairly, effectively and in a way that builds community confidence. Since the scheme has been in place, the number of Stop and Search episodes has reduced, the disproportionate impact on BME communities has decreased and Stop-to-Arrest ratios are at their highest ever level. All forces voluntarily signed up to the scheme two years ago and must deliver on their promised commitments. Any force that fails to do so will have its membership publicly revoked. I welcome the findings from HMIC and have written to the chief constables and PCCs of the 13 suspended forces confirming that I’ve reinstated their membership of the scheme in full.”
In 2014, the Government announced a comprehensive package for reform of the use of Stop and Search to ensure the police use all such powers lawfully, in a targeted and intelligence-led way and that communities are able to hold the police to account for their use.
The Home Secretary added: “Scrutiny of these powers will continue. I have commissioned HMIC to re-examine all forces’ use of Stop and Search next year to ensure the powers involved are being exercised fairly, effectively and proportionately.”