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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Cumbria police has launched the Government’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme

CUMBRIA police has today launched the Government’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

The voluntary scheme, which was announced by the Home Secretary in April, is designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve stop-to-arrest ratios. It will also provide the public with further information on the outcome of searches. From today,

Cumbria Constabulary will increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and identify whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome; and restrict the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers. Already used only when necessary, under this scheme, the Local Territorial Policing Commander must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers. In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence “will” rather than “may” take place, as it stands now.

Today the Home Secretary announced that all 43 police forces in England and Wales have signed up to the scheme and 24, including Cumbria Constabulary, will implement the additional data recording and “no-suspicion” measures from today. All forces have committed to implement all aspects of the scheme by November.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.

“That is why I am delighted that identified forces will from today reform their use of stop and search powers under the new Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used and help local communities hold the police to account for their use of the powers.”

Chief Constable Jerry Graham said: “Stop and Search is an essential tool in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in Cumbria. We as a force endeavour to use this power appropriately and our recording of the use of this power will be held to scrutiny under the scheme launched by the Home Secretary.

“Cumbria remains one of the safest places to live in the UK and through my officers utilising their Stop-Search Powers appropriately; I hope to keep it this way.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Richard Rhodes said: “I welcome the introduction of this scheme, and believe that transparency and accountability in the way that police force’s use their powers is key to promoting trust between the police and local communities.”

From today, stop and search data will also be available on data.police.uk. The additional information which forces will capture as a result of the Scheme will be published on this website in due course.

The Home Office has also launched a consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code A. The consultation on the Code, which governs the police’s use of stop and search, will last eight weeks.

Chief Executive of the College of Policing, Chief Constable Alex Marshall, said:

“Stop and search powers are necessary to help us tackle crime and keep people safe but it is clear that they are being misused too often. This can leave resentment in our communities and hinder our ability to prevent crime.

“Every police force in England and Wales has today committed to the best use of stop and search scheme to improve the way we use these important powers. Under this scheme search outcomes will be recorded in more detail so we have a greater understanding of how the powers are being used. Searches which do not require reasonable grounds of suspicion will reduce and communities will have greater powers to question police over their use of stop and search.

“The College of Policing will play our part by reviewing and developing the evidence-base, training and guidance so that police officers at every level in the service are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to conduct effective stop and search. We have already built links with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to look at whether unconscious bias is affecting officers’ use of stop and search.

“There are many areas of good practice where stop and search has reduced, the quality of encounter has gone up and arrest ratios increased. The College will be sharing that across the country so that we see the changes needed to ensure that the communities we serve have confidence in their police officers to use these important powers proportionately, effectively and fairly."


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