Stop and Search- Is It Working?

Stop and search dramatisation. Image: Million Youth Media

Stop and search dramatisation. Image: Million Youth Media

Since its introduction the use of stop and search by police has proved a controversial power with widespread allegations of misuse and discriminatory application.

Race has been a key sticking point with latest statistics showing black people in London are searched at just over 3 times the rate of white people.

With the attention surrounding it stop and search has attracted a number of challenges including from groups such as Stop Watch, a coalition of activists, academics and lawyers who monitor the use of stop and search and campaign against its misuse.

I spoke to one member, Adam Elliot-Cooper, about some of the issues presented by stop and search and their wider implications for policing.

Stop Watch also provides advice and support for those experiencing stop and search and similar situations.

Despite some of the popular controversy and criticisms many involved in policing still support the use of stop and search.

They cite its role in preventing crime and highlight statistical problems with the way disproportionality is shown.

I spoke to Carole Atkinson MBE, who chairs the stop and search monitoring group for Richmond Upon Thames.

She also works with the borough’s safer neighbourhood board about the role of stop and search and the statistical problems surrounding it.

Earlier this year the Home Office released research carried out on the effectiveness of stop and search following a FOI request from the Guardian.

The study found ‘no significant crime reducing effect’ from the increases in large scale stop and search.

There were 123,335 weapons searches in the first year of an anti-knife crime initiative called Operation Blunt 2 in 2008.

In more recent years there have been significant reductions in the use of stop and search across the country falling from a peak of 1.2m in 2010/11 when 9% of searches led to an arrest to 539,000 in 2014/15 of which 14% resulted in an arrest.

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