By Connor Steel
HOME SECRETARY Suella Braverman has pushed police forces across Britain to “ramp up” the use of stop-and-search powers in a bid to prevent knife crime; the Fareham MP sending this message in a press release for all departments on Monday and publishing further detail during her ‘statement’ to the House of Commons.
These controversial police powers mean that officers can stop and search individuals or vehicles if they have any reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying potentially dangerous items. This includes knifes, guns, weapons, drugs, stolen property, suspicious objects or something that may be used to commit serious crime.
Updated Government data states that 100,000 weapons have been taken off the streets in Britain since 2019 using a range of tactics by police, with almost half being located within stop-and-searches. This is reported to have further led to total figures of 200,000 arrests; with officials arguing for a “common sense policing tactic”.
Ms Braverman has further called for forces to publish their bodycam footage quickly after incidents related to stop-and-search, which will reduce what she described as “trial by social media”. She further argued that this set of measures were crucial in cutting an ever “dangerous culture” of carrying a knife and help to save lives.
The announcement was also met with concerns that stop-and-search methods continue to target those from ethnic minorities; “black men” said to be one of many that would be affected. Campaigners also warned that the methods can leave people victimised and can even break public trust with police officers in communities.
The police watchdog has previously called for the conclusion of “an overuse” of this technique on those from “black and other ethnic minority backgrounds”; whilst the Independent Office for Police Conduct outlined their own issues with this “legitimate policing tactic” and are currently “liaising” with officials on any improvements.
The Home Office said it accepted that black men were more likely to be stopped by police, but that they were also “disproportionately affected” by knife crime. They further stated they was planning to put into law certain conditions for using stop-and-search powers; which the department hopes will help to reduce all the concern.
Police should communicate with the local community when putting into place ‘Section 60’ orders in set areas; which state that stop-and-searches can be carried out without requiring “reasonable grounds”. Data on every stop-and-search interaction must also continue to be collected and further published for public transparency.
Readers are encouraged to visit media sites such as BBC News, Sky News, and ITV News for all developing updates on the story; which will likely include latest analysis from opposition MPs, knife charities and groups.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (B2F35K): Met Police officer issues a stop-and-search in London back during 2008.