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More police publish stop and search data

06/08/15

All but four forces in England and Wales now onboard after pressure from home secretary

More police forces have made data on their use of stop and search powers available through the www.police.uk website.

Search_bag_resize_3Following pressure from Home Secretary Theresa May, 15 forces in England and Wales have joined the 25 that were already posting the data. From now on they will provide monthly figures for the number of stops carried out, their locations and the ethnicity and age of those searched.

The data is available through the neighbourhood search feature on the website, but four forces are not yet joining the initiative: South Wales, Cheshire, Cumbria and Cambridgeshire.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “They either don’t record the data properly, or they don’t have the IT they need to provide us with that data. Some forces are moving slower than others in getting the IT, but we expect them to do so as soon as possible.”

Last year May suggested that up to a quarter of a million street searches a year are probably carried out illegally, demanded a significant reduction in the use of stop and search, more intelligence-led targeted operations and better arrest ratios.

She highlighted how black people are still seven times more likely to be stopped by the police than white people, with only about one in 10 of those stops leading to an arrest.

Danger of misuse

Yesterday, the home secretary said: “Stop and search is undoubtedly an important police power, but when it is misused it can be counter-productive and an enormous waste of police time.

“If it is not operated in a targeted and proportionate way, and if innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public.

“The summary pages provide the public with a visual representation of how fairly and effectively stop and search is being used in individual police forces.

“This is a further step forward in the government’s commitment to increasing the transparency of the police and ensuring the public can hold their force to account.”

Meanwhile, data collection for the initiative uncovered embarrassing inaccuracies in the way a number of forces are recording stop and search figures, the Home Office revealed.

Some have been inputting the date the stop and search was carried out - rather than the date of birth of the individual stopped. That meant their figures suggested a high number of searches of children under 10 years old when, in fact, the vast majority were actually adults.

Picture from www.police.gov.uk under Open Government Licence v2.0

 

 

 

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