On 10 October 2014 I wrote about the new Code of Guidance, prepared by the College of Policing on the use of stop and search powers.
The use of the new Code, called Best Use of Stop and Search, went live on 1 December 2014. It is a voluntary scheme, but one to which all police forces in England and Wales have signed up. It is designed to ensure the police take a more intelligence-led approach to using these powers, and that they are only used when necessary. Adoption of the code is seen as part of a range of measures designed to contribute to a reduction in the overall use of stop and search, lead to better and more intelligence-led stop and searches and more effective outcomes.
Initially only thirty-five forces were fully implementing the Scheme, City of London, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester Police, Lincolnshire, South Wales and Dorset police came full on board in April 2015. Key elements of the scheme are that
- Forces will publish their stop and search outcomes on http://data.police.uk/data/stop-and-search/, This allows members of the public to see how their force is using these powers
- Forces can now arrange for members of the public to accompany officers on patrol, so they can see how the police use stop and search
- Where a force receives a large volume of complaints on the use of stop and search, that force will explain to their local community scrutiny group how it is using the powers
- Forces should reduce the number of stop and searches where there are no reasonable grounds for suspicion.
In August 2015, it was announced that policed forces would be publishing further data on how they use these powers.This means that members of the public can see the number of stop and searches, the outcomes and the proportion of these outcomes that were linked to the purpose of the search in any given police area. The data also provide a breakdown of the ethnicity and age of people stopped and searched and the time of day stops are carried out on a monthly basis.
Currently 25 forces also publish their stop and search data on the crime maps on this site. This allows residents in these areas to see where stop and searches take place, and view details about the stop and search including the reason and outcome.
The data are available at http://data.police.uk/data/stop-and-search/
At present the data is presented in a rather raw spreadsheet format. A more narrative account would make for easier reading of the data.