Amber Rudd shows support for stop and search powers to tackle crime
Home Secretary Amber Rudd has backed the Met police chief over the use of stop and search in tackling rising knife crime as well as acid attacks.
This comes after Cressida Dick, Commissioner of Met Police in London, revealed she was in favour of the controversial tactic and that she was determined to fight the perception that it was discriminatory, despite warnings that this may disproportionately target black and ethnic minority communities. She argued police were using the tactic fairly:
“In London about one in three stop and searches result in something being found. That shows we not just doing random work.”
This discussion is once again relevant after the stop and search checks were overhauled by Theresa May three years ago when she was Home Secretary, as fewer than one in 10 of the more than one million stops undertaken every year resulted in an arrest. She introduced reforms which required officers to have ‘reasonable grounds’ to stop and search people, such as the suspicion that they are carrying items such as drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime. As a result, the overall number of checks has fallen by about two thirds with the stop-to-arrest rate now at record highs.
However, the reforms are now starting to be questioned after a surge in violent knife crimes as well as acid attacks. Writing in The Times, Rudd said that although there has been progress in reducing violent crime overall since 2010, “we must not lose sight of the fact that in some areas there are signs of a genuine rise in gun and knife crime”.
The Home Secretary warned that using the powers in a “less targeted and more indiscriminate way” would be a “backward step” but left the door open to increased use in appropriate circumstances.
“I want to be crystal clear – we have given the police the powers they need and officers who use stop and search appropriately, with reasonable grounds and in a targeted and intelligence-led way, will always have my full support.”
“This includes using stop and search to confront the use of acid as an appalling weapon of violence.”
Despite clear efforts being made by police to combat discrimination during stop and searches, official figures still show a worrying pattern, with black people being six times more likely to be checked than white people.