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UK Home Secretary urges ‘illegal’ stop and search practice overhaul

Published time: April 30, 2014 18:15
Edited time: June 27, 2014 08:13
Reuters/Andrew Winning

Reuters/Andrew Winning

The UK Home Secretary Theresa May has called for an overhaul of police stop and search powers, telling the House of Commons that as many as 250,000 illegal stop and searches may have been undertaken last year.

May announced plans to change the law, suggesting a review of all stop and search training, and making officers undertake an assessment of their awareness of the practice rules.

She added that if the number of stop and searches taking place did not drop then she would start making calls for a change to the law.

“Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young, black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police,” May told MPs.

Black people are seven times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. Additionally, only 10 percent of searches actually result in arrest, according to a recent study by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

Police are presently allowed to stop somebody only if there are reasonable grounds upon which to suspect that an individual is carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property, or something which could be used to commit a crime, e.g. a crowbar.

May demanded clarity on what constituted ‘reasonable grounds,’ as well as the opening of records for public scrutiny and “unconscious bias awareness training” to reduce the risk of discrimination.

As evidence of the necessity for a reform package, May cited the recent study by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. Its conclusions showed that with 27 percent of stop and search records examined, there were no reasonable grounds upon which to search people, despite a supervisor having given the green light for searches to take place.

”If the HMIC sample is accurate, that means more than a quarter of the million or so stops carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act last year could have been illegal,” stated May.

The Labour Party said that May’s plans do not go far enough.

Her opposition counterpart, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper asked her: “Why aren't you banning the use of targets given to police officers to stop and search a certain number of people?” Cooper also questioned why the guidance on race discrimination didn’t have a statutory basis and why there was no insistence that all forces abide by case law instead of just “some.”

Comments (17)


Keith Moss 01.05.2014 09:01

Mike Oxstiff 30.04.2014 21:27

We don't know what really happens in Russia because they control the press and don't show negative storys


Mi ke, I have been in Russia 9 times and will go again if I can.
Every visit for about 3 month at a time. I was able to move around as I liked. Never ever I was stopped by a cop. Also I found that people can talk against the kind of politic if they like.
Where does all this hoax about press control come from I dont know, of course I have a idea.
No websites blocked like here in Germany, I experience much more freedom there. I love Russia !!!!


Marc420 01.05.2014 06:56

There will of course not be 250,000 court cases brought concerning the 250,000 illegal acts performed by the police. Instead, I'm sure they'll be given a hug and a cup of tea and told not to be such bad boys and girls. You may think you have rights, but violating them does not lead to prison, and instead often seems to lead to promotion.


Keith Moss 01.05.2014 06:13

You think stop and search is bad in the UK, this is nothing compare to South Africa.
While I was there I was stopped 14 times in 24 hours. Even 1 time after 5 stops I complained to a cop, I was verbally harassed and threatened to be arrested even forced to take my shoes out so that my shoes can be checked. Also on 3 other occasions a bribe of 5 Euro made life much easier, this means pay as you go.
Avoid going to South Africa, I can write a book about the injustice there.

View all comments (17)
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