Increased stop and search powers for police
Updated: Aug 8, 2019
On Monday 1st April, Prime Minister, Theresa May held a Knife crime summit. This comes as it has been announced that the police in England and Wales will be given increased stop and search powers, allowing inspectors to authorise the use of section 60. As it stands, it is only more senior officers who can authorise this sanction which allows police to stop and search anyone they deem to be suspicious, in a certain area.
Katrina Ffrench, the chief executive of StopWatch, which campaigns for fair and accountable policing, said: "This decision is a disappointing and regressive move, which is about politics not saving lives" (BBC News, 2019). The government has promised an extra 100 million to tackle knife crime, yet increasingly, it seems they are choosing to rely solely on police, prisons and punishment, rather than looking at the structural factors which allow violence to manifest.
What's more, in 2014 when Theresa May was Home Secretary, an inquiry into thousands of police stop and searches found that 27% may have been illegal (BBC News, 2019). In 2014-15 black people were four times more likely to be searched than white people, while in 2017-18, they were 9.5 times as likely to be targeted (ibid). This supports Ffrench's point and indicates that removing the need for reasonable suspicion "will not only exacerbate the racial disparity, but has the potential to further damage the relationship between the black community and the police" (ibid).
BBC News. (2019). Police cannot 'arrest' violent crime away - PM. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47774435 [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].
BBC News. (2019). Police given more stop and search powers. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-47760645 [Accessed 2 Apr. 2019].