I am very proud that in Sussex there is a very well structured Committee that works within Sussex Police to constantly review the Stop and Search activity. This is not a new approach although it has been dramatically improved over the last 15 years and the current committee chaired by Dr Anusree Sasidharan carries out much stronger assessments than what took place earlier. As it happens back in the middle of June there was a debate on the subject of “Clause 139 – Serious Violence Reduction Orders and one of the themes that emerged from that debate was Stop and Search. It would be very helpful to start at the end of the debate when Victoria Atkins who was the Minister who took part in the debate stated very clearly
We expect all forces to allow stop-and-search records to be scrutinised by community representatives and to explain the use of their powers locally, as the statutory guidance requires them to do. At our request, the College of Policing has updated its stop-and-search guidance to include better examples of best practice for community engagement and scrutiny, and it is available now for all forces to follow.
So it is very important that the Sussex MPs should contact Sussex Police and potentially to meet with the community representatives in Sussex Police that review stop and search so that in September they can help to review the approach that has been taken by the Government to increase the stop and search provision. They may well then be able to challenge the approach taken by the Government back in March 2019 to increase the Stop and Search provision for 7 Police forces to see if that made an improvement. The plan at that stage was for a 12 month period by by August they had increased it for all Police forces and my suspicion is that the people in the Sussex community Stop and Search assessments and indeed in Sussex Police force will argue that there was no need to increase that provision. Along with Victoria Atkins there were contributions from Sarah Jones who is the Labour Home Office Shadow Minister. Earlier on in the debate she stated the following comments
It is hard to be persuaded that more sweeping powers to stop and search people with previous convictions will reduce serious violence. There is little evidence that stop-and-search is an effective deterrent to offending. That is not to say that it is not an important tool; it absolutely is and we all agree with that—nobody is saying otherwise. It is part of the police’s armoury when it comes to tackling crime. Stop-and-search is more effective at detecting criminals, but most searches result in officers finding nothing.
and a few minutes later
The Library states that “Available statistical analysis does not show a consistent link between the increased use of stop-and-search and levels of violence”. I do not often point to the Prime Minister as an example of good practice, but in every year while he was Mayor of London, the number of stop-and-searches went down in London, as did violent crime. Interestingly, he was following a slightly different course from the one he now advocates as Prime Minister. The College of Policing has concluded that stop-and-search should be used “carefully” in response to knife crime. The Home Office’s research found that the surge in stop-and-search during Operation Blunt 2 had “no discernible crime-reducing effects”.
More recently there have been a couple of publications on the challenge that what the Government is doing is being negative. One came from this publication on the 3rd August from the website called “The Conversation” and it was on the title of “Stop and search disproportionately affects black communities – yet police powers are being extended” and that was prepared by Winifred Agnew-Pauley from Anglia Ruskin University and Bisola Akintoye from the University of Kent. A few days later on the 13th August another document was published in Policing Insight website prepared by the same two people under the title of Stop and search disproportionately affects black communities – yet police powers are being extended
It is clear that we need the Government to reconsider their decisions and one way of learning that would be for the MPs across the nation to respond to what Victoria Atkins was calling for back in mid June this year.