Home Secretary tells police to reduce number of stop and searches

18 February 2015

Theresa May has told police forces they must further reduce the number of stop-and-searches carried out. Delivering the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust Criminal Justice Lecture, the Home Secretary reiterated her warning that if stop-and-searches are continually misused, a Conservative government “will not hesitate” to introduce legislation to curb the power.

Paul Ford, lead on stop and search for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said:

“Stop and search remains a vital part of everyday policing. Police forces are continuing to make significant progress to allay concerns and improve what is an effective tool to combat crime and provide public reassurance, which is now more challenging than ever with 17,000 less officers on the streets.

“Many communities want and need a visible police presence with street crime, possession of knives, weapons and drugs still prevalent across England and Wales. Knife and gang related crime pose a significant risk in some communities, requiring police officers to use stop and search powers proportionately.

“The Home Office and Chief Officers have a responsibility to educate the public around police stop and search powers, and how they are used to keep the public protected.

“Additional training in this area for officers would be welcome, but forces need to be allocated more resources as most have cut training budgets to cope with the significant reduction to police budgets.

“Whether to further reduce the number of stop and searches carried out or curb the power entirely should be an operational decision.”