Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
TUESDAY 5 MARCH 2002
360. What do you say to the view of the Police
Federation in particular who say as a result of criticism and
the Macpherson Inquiry and one or two other matters their ability
to deal with crime, certainly on the London scene, has been seriously
undermined as a result of not being able to stop and search as
(Mr Wadham) There has been no change to the law on
stop and search.
361. But in practice there has been, has there
(Mr Wadham) In practice, I am not sure. Obviously
I was not prepared for this particular question and this particular
level of detail but, so far as I understand, the evidence is that
it does not necessarily prove the Police Federation's case. If
in fact the Police Federation have decided to stop and search
fewer people, and they have got less arrests, then there may be
a problem but it may be that their targeting of stop and search
will lead to fewer people being unnecessarily stopped and searched
and a greater efficiency in terms of the people that they do,
and I would applaud that. It may be obviously if they stop a thousand
people and in only 20 of them do they find any evidence of criminal
offences, that creates a problem for the other 980 innocent people.
If in fact they can target their powers more carefully, and they
get a greater hit rate, so to speak, that is to be welcomed even
if one or two people escape through the net, particularly given
that large numbers of ethnic minorities and black people who are
innocent are stopped and searched on our streets every day. The
consequence of that is that they are more likely to be alienated
from the police than if they are left alone.
362. Were you surprised at all by The Voice
newspaper, the journal of the black community, arguing that stop
and search should be used? Does it not reflect the appalling criminality
which is occurring almost on a daily basis in London?
(Mr Wadham) I think that sometimes we have all focused
a great deal on the fact that ethnic minorities and black people
are discriminated against as suspects and not so much that they
are as much discriminated as victims, and they do not always get
the service they are entitled to from the police and others. I
think there is a real issue to ensure that the discrimination
is dealt with in both senses. That is an issue throughout the
criminal justice system, both the black and ethnic minority people
as victims and as witnesses and as suspects, and that is something
we all need to do more about. I do not accept the proposal that
therefore there should be more stop and search because the systems
seem to result in unnecessary discrimination.
363. Mr Littlewood, you have sat silently throughout
our proceedings but I think you drafted the evidence, did you
not, is that right?
(Mr Littlewood) No, that was drafted by somebody who
left Liberty on Friday.
(Mr Littlewood) So, no, I did not.
365. Is there anything you want to add?
(Mr Littlewood) It will not surprise you to know that
I agree with everything that John Wadham has said.
366. There is nothing you wish to add?
(Mr Littlewood) No.
Chairman: In that case, Mr Wadham, Mr Littlewood,
thank you very much for coming.