In order to demonstrate transparency and continuous improvement in the way we use stop and search powers, the Force has voluntarily joined the National Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
The Force has a working group chaired by a senior officer who also attends the national Police and Public Encounters Board.
The scheme, announced by the Home Secretary, following national consultation, is designed to achieve greater transparency and community scrutiny in our use of stop and search powers.
In brief, the four key requirements of the scheme are:
- Data recording
- Forces will record the outcome of searches to show the link, or lack of, between the object of the search and its outcome e.g. arrests, cautions, penalty notices for disorder and all other disposal types. This is so we can use this information to improve the quality of stop and searches.
- Reduction in use of Section 60 authorisations and a change in procedure when they are used.
- The scheme requires that the level of authorisation for a Section 60 be raised from inspector to a chief officer, and then only when they reasonably believe that an incident involving serious violence will take place.
- A Section 60 must only be applied in accordance with case law and only used if necessary – and this must be made clear to the public.
- The duration of initial authorisation will be limited to 15 hours (from 24) and forces are required to communicate to local communities in advance (where practicable) when there is a section 60 authorisation.
- Lay observation policies
- A new policy will provide the opportunity for members of the local community to accompany police officers on patrol using stop and search. This is designed to ensure people are fully informed and understand the use of stop search in their communities.
- Stop and search community complaints trigger and Force public scrutiny group
- The Force is required to implement a local complaint policy. The Force must explain to local community scrutiny groups how the powers are being used, where there is a large volume of complaints. This ‘trigger’ could either be activated internally by a particular volume of complaints on the subject; or externally by the concerns of a particular community group.