The use of stop and search powers by police in Nottinghamshire improved significantly prior to the government introducing tough new measures to increase accountability, it has been revealed.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping said today the Force had made strong progress against all of the 10 recommendations outlined by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2013 which sought to improve the system and increase fairness and transparency.
His comments were made in response to a new report published by HMIC which stated that a number of police forces had made disappointingly slow progress in improving use of the powers since the original recommendations.
The ‘Stop and Search Powers 2: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?’ report set out the findings of a recent HMIC inspection into the progress made since the initial stop and search report. Among a number of findings was that many police leaders and officers still failed to understand the impact of these powers on the community, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Nottinghamshire Police was not one of the forces inspected by the HMIC and Commissioner Tipping said a lot of good work had been undertaken locally to ensure stop and searches are fair, lawful and well communicated
The Force was one of 24 forces to sign up to the Home Secretary’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in 2014 which aims to use an intelligence-led approach to target stop and searches to areas where specific crimes have occurred and to focus on key impact crimes including burglary, robbery and carrying offensive weapons.
The voluntary scheme is designed to ensure every stop and search encounter is conducted fairly and the person searched is treated with dignity and respect while also providing the public with more information about the outcomes of searches.
While the Force has one of the lowest rates of stop and search use in the country, it has significantly improved tasking and briefing systems and intelligence-gathering processes. Data recording has also been stepped up and current figures show 25.8% of all stop and searches undertaken in the year to date have led to a positive outcome such as an arrest, cannabis warning, fixed penalty notice, report for summons or restorative justice outcome.
In a further step to promote openness and accountability, members of local communities have accompanied police officers while out on patrol and using stop and search powers. A Complaints Trigger Policy is also currently in the process of public consultation which will ensure that complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised.
Commissioner Tipping said: “I have been very pleased with the progress we have made so far in ensuring the mechanisms are in place to continually check and evaluate the use of stop and search powers by police. Stop and search remains a highly controversial issue within our communities and its misuse can be extremely damaging to public confidence, particularly within the minority ethnic communities where we are trying to very hard to establish positive relationships.
“I continue to support the aim of stop and search powers to help keep people safe and will continue to work with the Chief Constable to ensure that we fully understand and support communities who feel the impact is greater on them.
“As part of my ongoing commitment to tackle issues of imbalance and disproportionality within policing, I am continuing to monitor and evaluate stop and search figures to build a picture of how these powers are being utilised across Nottinghamshire as well as ensuring that our communities understand how and why they are being used.”
Nottinghamshire Police is one of many forces which publishes stop and search data online, revealing the location of stop and searches for purposes of openness and transparency.
There is also a Stop and Search Scrutiny Board which reviews the use of stop and search which holds the police to account for the use of the powers, supported by regular audits to ensure the grounds for searches are properly recorded and to ensure individual officers are not using these powers in a disproportionate manner.
The Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan includes a commitment to ensure that stop and search use is carried out in a necessary and proportionate manner, data is shared and that greater scrutiny is encouraged.
Media Enquiries: Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702541401
Posted on Friday 27th March 2015