South Yorkshire Police has fully launched the Government’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.
The voluntary scheme, which was announced by the Home Secretary in April, is part of a range of measures that will 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.
Thirty-five forces, including South Yorkshire, will be implementing all aspects of the scheme to:
- increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome;
- restrict the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers;
- give members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice; and
- introduce a community complaints trigger – ensuring that complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
“Stop and search powers are vital in the fight against crime when used correctly. However, they must be applied fairly and only when needed – and in a way that builds community confidence rather than undermining it.
“South Yorkshire Police are dedicated to reforming their use of stop and search powers, saving officers’ time and increasing transparency within the local community. I’m delighted they have now fully implemented the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.
“Stop and search reforms are working. The number of searches are down under this government, by 15% in the last year alone. But we cannot be complacent and must ensure that the public can hold the police to account for their use of these powers.”
Chief Constable David Crompton said: ““We welcome the new guidance in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.
“The new scheme aims to achieve greater transparency and community involvement and is more focused around intelligence to gain better outcomes.
“I am confident that in South Yorkshire, stop and searches are carried out proportionately and appropriately.
“Stop and search is a valuable police power that assists in the fight against crime and helps to keep our communities safe.”
The Home Secretary also announced today that British Transport Police will be joining the scheme before the end of the year. The Home Office is working with BTP to ensure that they are able to implement the scheme’s requirements early in the new year.
From today West Mercia and Nottinghamshire police will begin a pilot scheme that will digitally map stop and searches, identifying locations where stop and searches take place using geo-mapping technology. The data will be uploaded to Police.uk so the public can monitor the use of stop and search powers.
And following an eight-week public consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code A, which governs the police’s use of stop and search, the Home Secretary will lay a revision to Code A in parliament this week. This revision will make clear to officers what constitutes ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ and to emphasise that the misuse of stop and search powers would lead to performance or disciplinary procedures.