“Public need confidence in stop and search”

The chair of Gwent Police Federation says it’s vital communities have confidence in officers’ use of stop and search.

Steve Thorpe has urged the Force to invest in training and support to ensure stop and search powers are being used properly.

His comments follow a new report  from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) on the disproportionate use of police powers with a spotlight on stop and search and use of force.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams said: “Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers. Disproportionality persists and no force can satisfactorily explain why.”

According to the report, in 2019/20, black, Asian and minority ethnic people (BAME) were over four times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.

It also estimated there were reasonable grounds for stop and search encounters in 81.7 per cent of cases – down from 94 per cent in 2017.

Forces have been urged to improve their understanding of the tactic by identifying disproportionality, take action to reduce it where required, and explain those reasons and actions to the public.

Steve said: “Stop and search can be an effective approach to tackling drug crime and taking weapons off our streets. But it’s vital the communities we serve are confident we’re using these powers appropriately.

“We know there’s work to do to address concerns about the disproportionate use of stop and search, and we’re committed to that. Our frontline colleagues need the best training, support and supervision so that they have the confidence to use stop and search effectively, appropriately and proportionately.”

Reacting to the report, Paul Odle, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Black Asian Minority Ethnic and BAME Belief Group, which this month became part of the HMICFRS External Reference Group on diversity and inclusion, said: “PFEW is fully committed to eradicating all forms of discrimination through community education, awareness and by listening to colleagues and the communities we serve.

“PFEW’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic and BAME Belief Group is part of an ongoing, important conversation on this subject, and we are dedicated to developing a greater cultural understanding around stop and search.”