The Macpherson Report: Twenty-two years on Contents

6Stop and search

Legitimacy in the eyes of the public is inextricably linked to the way the police use their powers—whether the police are fair and reasonable in the use of their powers, respectful during encounters and open in their decision-making. A lack of trust leads to reduced legitimacy, which can lead to lower levels of co-operation and compliance. Unfair use of powers can be counter-productive if it leads people to feel they have no obligation to comply with the law. It may make people unwilling to report crimes of which they are the victims, or to come forward as witnesses.

Source: Wendy Williams CBE, foreword to HMICFRS report421

271.The Macpherson report stated that:

While there are other factors at play we are clear that the perception and experience of the minority communities that discrimination is a major element in the stop and search problem is correct.422

272.This chapter will examine stop and search powers: what they are, why they are used, ethnic disproportionality in their use, and evidence on their effectiveness.

Macpherson report: stop and search overview

273.Twenty-two years ago the Macpherson report reached “a clear core conclusion of racist stereotyping” in the countrywide disparity of stop and search figures.423

274.It specifically considered whether the powers should be “removed or further limited”. It rejected this option and concluded that:424

We fully accept the need for such powers to continue, and their genuine usefulness in the prevention and detection of crime (Recommendations 60–63).

275.However, the report found that stop and search was a “universal” area of complaint and that minority ethnic communities did not trust the validity of the complex arguments that were sometimes presented to explain disparities in the stop and search statistics.425 Four of the report’s recommendations were specifically aimed at ensuring that stop and search powers were used in a lawful and non-discriminatory way.426 Furthermore, it highlighted that the experiences of “minority ethnic communities” stretched far beyond the stop and search figures recorded under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), and also included stops made under traffic legislation, drug legislation and ‘voluntary stops’ (i.e. stop and accounts).427

276.The Macpherson report criticised disproportionality in stop and search, highlighting that discrimination was a major factor based on the perception and experience of Black and minority communities. Consequently, “the policy directives governing stop and search procedures and their outcomes” were identified by the report as a performance indicator for measuring progress against the Ministerial Priority.428 The authors were particularly critical of the police service’s attempt to justify disproportionality:

Attempts to justify the disparities through the identification of other factors, whilst not being seen vigorously to address the discrimination which is evident, simply exacerbates the climate of distrust.429

277.Ten years on, the Runnymede Trust also expressed concern at the continued disproportionality in stop and search procedures and recommended that the Government should “reassess the value and usefulness of stop and search as an effective ‘intelligence led’ crime reduction strategy”.430 This was rejected by the Government at the time.431 The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) expressed similar misgivings to Runnymede in their own review of progress since 1999. They concluded:

we have detected a lack of rigor or interest among the police service and other agencies when it comes to certain policing issues, such as the national DNA database and stop and search disproportionality.432

278.In 2021, stop and search remains a controversial police power. This is because Black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals continue to be disproportionately searched: there are ongoing concerns that this disproportionate use ostracises particular minority ethnic groups and harms police-community relations, and there are disagreements about the effectiveness of stop and search as a measure to detect and prevent crime.

Stop and search: statutory powers

279.The police have a range of statutory powers to stop and search individuals: most stop and search powers require officers to have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect the individual has a prohibited item.433 The most widely used powers are those which require officers to have ‘reasonable grounds’ for suspicion:

280.However, there is statutory provision for police officers to stop and search people without ‘reasonable grounds’ in some circumstances: these are often referred to as ‘no suspicion’ searches:

281.There is also statutory provision for police officers to conduct vehicle stops (under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) without the need for a particular reason or an obligation to explain why the vehicle has been stopped:

Use of stop and search powers in England and Wales and historical comparison

282.In the year ending 31 March 2020 just under 600,000 stop and searches were carried out compared to a peak of 1.4 million in 2009/10 (the year the current series began).441 The House of Commons Library graph below (Figure 10) shows the use of all stops and searches between 2009/10 and 2019/20.442

283.The lowest number of all stops and searches, at around 280,000, was conducted in 2017/18. The use of all stop and search powers increased in the year ending March 2019 by 36% and the year ending March 2020 by 53%.443 The Home Office attributes this recent increase partly to forces’ “willingness to make greater use of such powers as part of the operational response to knife crime”.444

284.While the number of stops and searches under all powers started to fall after 2010 (see Figure 10), the overall rate of decline increased during 2014/15 following the implementation of government changes in 2014.445 We discuss the Rt Hon Theresa May MP’s 2014 stop and search reforms later in this chapter.446

Recent increase in stop and searches

285.Of the 577,000 stops and searches conducted by officers in England and Wales in the financial year 2019/20 (excluding road traffic stops) around 97% were conducted using PACE “reasonable grounds” powers and around 3% (approximately 18,000 searches) were conducted using section 60 ‘no suspicion’ powers.447 The vast majority of searches are therefore conducted using powers which require officers to have ‘reasonable grounds’ for the search (see Figure 10) below which shows the total of both reasonable ground searches and section 60 searches). We note that complete stop and search data for England and Wales were not available for 2019/20 as Greater Manchester Police (GMP) were unable to provide their data due to the “the transition from a legacy IT system to a new force system”.448

Figure 10: Number of stops and searches in England and Wales449

286.Of the 558,973 ‘reasonable grounds’ stop and searches carried out in the year ending March 2020:

287.HMICFRS analysis of 2019 stop and search records found that, in all forces except Suffolk, possession-only drug searches were more prevalent than supply-type drug searches, accounting for more than 70 percent of drug searches in 37 out of 43 forces, and over 90 percent of drugs searches in 6 forces.451 Of the total search records reviewed, across the full range of grounds, possession-only drugs searches accounted for half of all searches.452

288.Over 150,000 section 60 stop and searches were carried out in 2008/09, but their use declined considerably to just 622 in 2016/17.453 This downward trend ended in 2016/17 and the number of section 60 searches has increased substantially for the last three consecutive years. Between 2018/19 and 2019/20 the number of ‘reasonable grounds’ searches increased by around 53% (from 365,554 to 558,973) and the number of ‘no suspicion’ searches increased by 35% (from 13,414 to 18,081).454 These changes are shown in the graph from the House of Commons Library, below.455

289.The increase in ‘no suspicion’ searches (i.e. section 60) in 2019/20 was largely driven by the Metropolitan Police Service and Merseyside Police that respectively accounted for 63% and 7% of all section 60 searches in England and Wales in the year ending 31 March 2020.456

Figure 11: ‘No suspicion’ searches (thousands)457

Disproportionality in stop and search

290.While improved recording practices may have had an impact, statistics covering the year to 31 March 2020 showed that ethnic disproportionality in stop and search is worse than it was twenty-two years ago. Macpherson reported that in 1997/98: “Overall Black people were five times more likely to be stopped than Whites”.458 The statistics for England and Wales, covering the year to 31 March 2020, showed that White people were stopped and searched 280,661 times, and Black people, 96,905 times, and as a proportion of the population (i.e. when compared with their number in the population in England and Wales), Black people were nine times (8.9) more likely than White people to be stopped and searched, under all powers, while the wider category of BAME people were over four times (4.1) more likely to be subject to the powers.459

Figure 12: Search rate by ethnicity460

291.Racial disparities in stop and search are evident across all police forces, according to Home Office data. There is wide variation between forces in both stop and search rates and the extent of the disparity. The likelihood of being stopped and searched if you are Black was highest for the Metropolitan Police in the year to March 2020, where the rate was 71 per 1,000. By contrast, the rate was 28 per 1,000 for the rest of England and Wales. Black people were stopped and searched at a rate 23 times higher than White people in Dorset, 14 times higher in West Mercia and 13 times higher in Warwickshire, compared to 2 times higher in North Wales.461 Stop and search rates by force are included in the Annex (see Figure 17).

292.In February 2021, HMICFRS published its report on Disproportionate use of police powers—A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force.462 HM Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams set out the consequences of disproportionality in the foreword to the report:

When the police use their powers disproportionately—in differing proportions on different ethnic groups—it causes suspicion among some communities that they are being unfairly targeted.

This can undermine police legitimacy, which is a fundamental aspect of the British model of policing by consent.463

293.Focusing specifically on the effect on Black people and BAME communities, the report went on to state that:

The negative effect of disproportionate use of powers and poor police and community relations on public perceptions should not be underestimated. The damage can be far-reaching and long-lasting. Disproportionate use of powers leads to more Black people being drawn into the criminal justice system, disrupting education, reducing work opportunities and breaking down families and communities. It can contribute to perceptions among the public and police officers regarding Black people and crime. It may also influence how the police allocate resources, which in turn can accelerate the imbalances seen in the criminal justice system and perceptions of a correlation between ethnicity and criminality. Among young Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people, fear of conflict with the police, which might draw them into the criminal justice system, causes them to curtail their freedom at a critical time in their development. For example, they might avoid certain places or gatherings so as not to come to police attention.464

Disproportionality in ‘reasonable grounds’ (Section 1 and 23) searches

294.Between April 2019 and March 2020, 97% of all stop and searches in England and Wales were under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act or associated legislation including section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.465 Across England and Wales, ‘reasonable grounds’ stops were carried out at a rate of 49 per 1,000 for Black people, and 6 per 1,000 for White people.466

295.The Chair of the NPCC, Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, told us that stop and search is a “very legitimate tactic” to target those that the police suspect are carrying weapons.467 However Home Office data show that in the majority of cases the police are not exercising the tactic for this purpose: 63% of all ‘reasonable grounds’ searches in 2019/20 were conducted to find controlled drugs, with 16% conducted to find offensive weapons.468

296.Much of the evidence we received identified a lack of transparency about the reasons why BME people were being disproportionately searched compared to White people. The National Association of Muslim Police argued that it was inaccurate to describe police use of stop and search as “intelligence-led” when descriptions of offenders were so broad they could be applied to the majority of people from a particular background, which resulted in innocent people being stopped.469 One young person (Participant A) told us that young BME people were continually targeted for stop and search because of the people they had been associated with or because the area they lived in was known for knife crime.470

297.Similarly the Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association, Detective Sergeant Hills, raised concerns about the Metropolitan Police Service’s disproportionate targeting of the BME community for possession of drugs when the more urgent issue was the need to tackle knife crime.471 In the year to end of May 2021 the Metropolitan Police Service reported that the purpose of 66.5% of stops and searches it carried out was for drugs and 14.9% was for weapons, points and blades.472 Detective Sergeant Hills told the Committee that searches for drug possession disproportionately affected young Black men despite the fact that a White person was more likely to be in possession of drugs. She told the Committee that she wanted to see the number of weapons stops conducted by the Metropolitan Police rise. She argued that this would show that stop and search was being used effectively.473

298.In written evidence to the Committee, StopWatch reported that ethnic disproportionality of drug stop and searches existed despite crime surveys showing Black and minority ethnic groups offended at similar or lower levels than White people.474 One young person [Participant B] told us that inadequate reasons were given by the police for stops and searches, such as “a smell of weed in the air”.475 Another young person [Participant C] said that he was stopped for a driving offence but was subsequently told by the police that they would search his car for drugs. In his view it was not right for the police subsequently to change their reasons for the stop.476

299.In its 2021 report on Disproportionate use of police powers, HMICFRS noted that in 42 out of 43 forces possession-only drug searches were more prevalent than supply-type drug searches, despite few forces counting drugs possession (as opposed to supply) among their strategic priorities.477 The report concluded that this finding “potentially indicates that efforts are not being effectively focused on force priorities” such as county lines and that therefore “policing tactics to address this need to target drugs supply more effectively”.478

300.The report also found that drug enforcement contributed to disproportionality “despite evidence that there is no correlation between ethnicity and rates of drug use”.479 According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, in the year ending March 2020, the proportion of 16 to 59 year olds reporting use of illicit drugs in the last year was 10.1% of White people and 5.4% of Black, African, Caribbean, and Black British people.480 For Class A drugs, the proportion was 3.8% for White people and 1.0% for those grouped in the survey as ‘Black, African, Caribbean and Black British people’.481 However in 2019/20, BAME people were stopped and search for drugs (possession and supply) at a rate 4.1 times higher than White people, and for Black people the rate was 8.3 times higher.482 From a review of a representative sample of 9,378 police records from 2019 conducted by HMICFRS, Black people were 2.4 times more likely than White people to be stopped and searched specifically for possession of drugs.483 Drug searches on Black people, and particularly possession-only drug searches, also had a higher rate of weak recorded grounds than equivalent searches on White people, and fewer drug searches of Black people resulted in drugs being found.484 The report called for an “evidence-based national debate on the use of stop and search in the policing of controlled drugs”.485

301.The Home Office told us that, since the 2014 reforms, stop and search was more targeted and intelligence-led than ever before. It substantiated this assertion by highlighting that the arrest rate following a stop and search was the “highest on record” at 17%486 though we note that arrest does not necessarily lead to a charge.

302.The HMICFRS review of 2019 police records found that 55% of searches were self-generated by the officer, 37% were motivated by third-party information and “surprisingly few”, 9%, were intelligence-led,487 including some forces where it was as low as 1%.488

Disproportionality in ‘No suspicion’ (Section 60) searches

303.The Home Office release covering the year ending 31 March 2020 shows that both the number of section 60 searches and the disproportionality in searches conducted on Black and White people is at a much higher level in recent years than was previously the case.489 From a low of 622 ‘no suspicion’ searches in 2016/17, there were 2,502 in 2017/18 and 13,414 in 2018/19. In 2019/20, excluding Greater Manchester Police, there were 18,081 stop and searches under section 60.490 Accounting for differences in population size, Black people were 14 times more likely to be searched under section 60 powers than White people in 2016/17. That increased to 40 times more likely in 2017/18, to 47 times in 2018/19, and then fell to 18 times more likely in 2019/20.491

304.Excluding the Metropolitan Police, 10% of people stopped under section 60 were Black compared to 62% of White people.492 This compares to data from the 2011 Census, which estimated that 86% of the population in England and Wales was White, and 3% were from Black ethnic groups.493

305.The Home Office figures covering the year to 31 March 2020 also show the Metropolitan Police’s use of section 60 was disproportionate: 34% of people stopped and searched under the power were recorded as Black compared to 20% of White people.494 This compares to data from the 2011 Census, which estimated that 45% of the London population was White, and 13% were Black.495

306.Dr Rebekah Delsol told the Committee that the police were able to deploy this power with the “widest discretion and limited safeguards, allowing them to utilise generalisations and stereotypes, rather than objective information, about who is involved in crime”.496 Bishop Webley argued that section 60 had been used sometimes as a “blanket order across communities” causing more problems than it resolved because it “criminalised a wider area where some issues of crime were not taking place”.497 He told us stop and search serves a purpose but that it has to be used on “an intelligence-led basis, joining up other police work that has been done in the local community to bring the community that you are serving along with you in the means of dealing with crime”.498

307.Matthew Ryder QC, who had represented the Lawrence family in their claim against the Metropolitan Police and is a former Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration took the view that section 60 was the “real issue” with regard to “disparity in stop and search increases”.499 He commented that it was the only power that could be “[…] turned up and down at whim politically”. Consequently, its increase could be sanctioned as a way of showing that the Government was “doing more”.500

308.During the previous Committee’s Serious Youth Violence inquiry, Commissioner Dick said that her force’s use of section 60 powers had increased significantly since she took office in 2017. She also told us that section 60 powers were used “very professionally, and in a measured way” and that the police “have found no difficulty in using it”:

My officers are quick to know when they need to ask for one. They have a very good understanding of what the law says, which is where serious violence may take place, and I have always applied that since I became Commissioner.501

309.A number of witnesses expressed concern to us about the escalation in the use of section 60 and its disproportionality. Professor Ben Bowling said that:

The widespread use of a power that does not have grounds, where a police officer does not have to give a reason why a person is being searched, is an abomination. It is in total contradiction to British ideas of liberty and justice.502

310.Katrina Ffrench told us section 60 was undermining public confidence and that its use was an issue of “political expediency”.503 She said that “We all want the police to do a good job, but if you have the wrong tools we all know you cannot do a good job. That is where we are at with section 60 at the moment”.504

311.Home Office data for 2019/20 show that the Metropolitan Police Service carried out just over 11,400 section 60 stops and searches, a 19% increase on the total number of section 60 searches it conducted in 2018/19 (9,599 searches). However in the two year period from, 2017/18 (1,836 searches ) to 2019/20 (11,412 searches), there was a 522% increase in the force’s use of section 60.505 The Commissioner said when her force announces a section 60 authority in a particular area that “it tends to say to the gangs—and for us it is nearly always gangs after there has been a stabbing or two stabbings … that there is going to be a presence of officers who have the power to stop and search”.506 She argued that section 60 was “a deterrent as well as a crime investigation tool” and told us that her force “do not usually do very high volumes of stop and search under section 60”.507

Disproportionality in road traffic stops (section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988)

312.Disproportionality was also a concern for wider police ‘stop’ powers under road traffic law (Road Traffic Act 1988). Over twenty years ago, the Macpherson report highlighted that people “do not perceive any difference between a ‘stop’ under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act from one under the Road Traffic Act whilst driving a vehicle”.508 As explained by Liberty, Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 “gives a uniformed officer a broad power to stop drivers without suspicion, or even a particular reason. Failure to stop is a criminal offence and during a stop an officer can demand to see your driving licence”.509 Trust can be either undermined or strengthened by the approach taken to these exercises of power.

313.The Macpherson report recommended that:

It is essential to obtain a true picture of the interactions between the police and minority ethnic communities in this context. All “stops” need to be recorded, and related self-defined “ethnic data” compiled.510

314.The report acknowledged that “The great weight of extra recording would undoubtedly relate to “traffic stops””. The report concluded that:

We have considered whether such a requirement would create too great a bureaucracy for operational officers, and we are persuaded that this is not the case.511

315.In a 2013 report, HMICFRS noted that “some people believed that they had been stopped and searched when, in fact, they had been stopped and spoken to by an officer or stopped in their car under the Road Traffic Act–without a search taking place”.512 In her 2014 speech as former Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP recognised that the wider use of police stop powers such as road traffic stops also needed to come under more exacting scrutiny.513 In 2015, HMIC published another report recommending that minimum national recording standards should be introduced for road traffic stops, and that the Home Office should require forces to submit annual data about their use.514

316.However, in 2021 there is still no requirement for police forces to record and monitor stops carried out under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. In its written evidence StopWatch said that traffic stops were “by far the most widely used form of police stop power, and are used disproportionately against Black and ethnic minority drivers”.515 It also highlighted a successful pilot in 2018 by West Midlands Police to record section 163 traffic stops. It noted that by recording this data the force identified “levels of disproportionality in s163 stops similar to those of stop and search within the force area” and that “the recording of traffic stops did not create an unacceptable bureaucratic burden for officers”.516

317.In November 2020 the Mayor of London published an action plan to improve trust and confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service.517 The action plan was produced in response to “community concerns about the disproportionality in the use of certain police powers affecting Black Londoners”.518 It reported that “Black people are six times more likely than White people to be stopped and searched under the PACE Act in their vehicles—an even greater level of disproportionality than for in-person stops”.519 As part of the action plan the Mayor has asked the Metropolitan Police Service to “launch a new year-long pilot project to review samples of vehicle stops to identify any disproportionality relating to ethnicity”.520 The Mayor has also written to the Prime Minister “to request it be made statutory for the police to collect and publish data on ethnicity for all road traffic stops as part of the Home Office Annual Data Requirement” and that the “Codes of Practice supporting the Police And Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act–under which street searches are carried out–be extended to cover road traffic stops to more clearly define the limits of the powers”.521

318.The 2021 HMICFRS report recognised the MPS pilot as “a positive step” but stated that “we remain disappointed that the actions set out in our recommendations have not yet been introduced” and indicated that future inspections would focus on traffic stops specifically.522

Explaining racial disparities in stop and search

319.A 2010 report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) considered various explanations put forward to explain disproportionality in the police use of stop and search.523 One example given was that “some ethnic groups” were more likely to commit crimes than others. Another explanation was that police officers were more likely to record stops and searches conducted on Black people than White people for fear of a complaint being made. Some also argued that BME people were more likely to be “available” in public spaces than White people.524 The EHRC concluded that these explanations, and others, failed to explain why BME people were disproportionately searched and that “racial discrimination” was a key reason for the ethnic disparity prevalent in police stop and searches.525 In its Ten Years On report, the Runnymede Trust noted the “circularity” of the definition of availability and argued that, instead, disproportionality followed from “differences in police-force practice (whether by policy or custom) than from community lifestyles”.526

320.In written evidence to the Committee StopWatch argued that one key factor “driving disproportionality” was the concentration of stop and search in larger urban police forces where “a high proportion of the country’s Black and ethnic minority population” lived. It highlighted that London “accounted for 55 per cent of [the] Black population nationally”, compared to “only 11 per cent of the White population nationally”.527 In its report The Colour of Injustice the organisation had examined whether there was a relationship between social deprivation and rates of stop and search but had found that rates of stop and search for Black people did not vary with levels of deprivation: Black people were “subject to similarly heightened rates of stop and search in deprived areas, affluent areas, and everything in between”.528

321.High rates of ethnic disproportionality in the use of stop and search have also been reported in “largely non-urban areas” suggesting that the reasons for racial disparities in stop and search are not solely urban driven.529 The Home Office has reported on its website that statistics for 2018/19 showed that the largest disparity in stop and search rates between Black and White people was in Dorset, where Black people were 25 times more likely to be stopped than White people (the largest difference between ethnic groups).530 Additionally, Black people were subjected to the highest stop and search rates in every police force area for which there was data.531

322.When asked about the disproportionality in stop and search, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner described in evidence the “horrible disproportionality affecting our Black communities in all kinds of ways in terms of health, employment and all sorts of other things”. In particular, she pointed to the disproportionate impact of violent crime on Black Londoners:

The overlap with my key metric, which is knife injuries for under 25s, which we have been reducing for the last two years and into this year, shows enormous disproportionality in the way it affects our young Black men as victims and, I am sorry to say, as perpetrators. That is horrible. For knife robbery, gangs, county lines, line holders: hugely disproportionate.532

323.The Mayor of London’s November 2020 Action Plan also identified the need to address disproportionate violent crime affecting Black teenagers, both as victims and perpetrators.533 Based on 2018/2019 data, BAME people represent 41% of London’s population but make up 59% of homicide victims and 78% of those charged with homicide.534

324.However, stop and searches are disproportionate in areas with low levels of violent crime as well as higher levels of violent crime. Forces including Surrey, and Gloucestershire, have higher levels of racial disproportionality in stop and search than the MPS even though they have lower levels of violent crime.535 Disproportionality in searches for drugs possession, as opposed to supply, cannot be explained by reference to serious violence. As referenced above, Black people are 2.4 times more likely than White people to be stopped and searched specifically for possession of drugs.536 HMICFRS noted that this occurred despite evidence that there is no correlation between ethnicity and rates of drug use.537 In October 2020, the IOPC raised concern about “perceived racial profiling” in stop and searches in a report with recommendations for the Metropolitan Police based on a review of five investigations involving stop and searches of Black men by MPS officers in London.538 Drawing on evidence from three of its investigations, the IOPC reported that “it appears that the officer’s decision-making may have been led by or influenced by assumptions informed by the race of the people being stopped and searched”, such as a case where “two Black men fist-bumping were suspected of exchanging drugs”.539

325.Inspector Popple, Fairness in Policing lead at West Midlands Police, suggested there were two elements with regard to explanations for ethnic disparity in the use of stop and search.540 Firstly he said it would be “naïve to ignore that there is bias in individual officers” based on discrimination or pre-existing assumptions made about individuals’ behaviour.541 Secondly he said it was important to consider how and where police resources were being deployed to monitor and understand the proactive deployment of officers in particular areas and whether stop and search is being used effectively in those areas, in response to crime.542 He added that his force was trying to think differently about how it used stop and search, by continually asking if it was the right tactic to use, by not making assumptions about its effectiveness and by working more closely with communities on its use.543

The effectiveness and impact of stop and search

Arrests following stop and search

326.Home Office figures for the year to the end of March 2020 showed that there were almost 11,000 arrests for weapons and firearms and just under 35,000 arrests for drugs as a result of stop and search.544 Overall 13% of ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches (under s1 of the PACE Act and associated legislation) resulted in arrests in England and Wales in 2019/20, down from 16% in the previous year.545 The arrest rate was notably lower for ‘no suspicion’ searches under section 60, with 4% leading to arrest in 2019/20.546 The arrest rate for ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches had been increasing from 9% in the year ending March 2010 to 17% in the year ending March 2018 while the volume of searches decreased. The Home Office suggested that a reason for the increase in the arrest rate for ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches was because police were being more targeted in their use of stop and search, and finding reason for an arrest in a higher proportion of cases.547 However, since March 2018 the arrest rate for ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches has fallen: in 2019/20 it was 13%, the lowest arrest rate since 2013/14.

327.Home Office statistics for the year ending 31 March 2020 showed that the number of ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches increased for the second consecutive year while the volume of resultant arrests fell: ‘reasonable grounds’ conducted searches increased by 28% from 57,546 in 2018/19 to 73,423 in 2019/20 while the arrest rate fell from 16% to 13%.548

328.There are arguments to suggest that find rates (the proportion of searches where officers find the prohibited item they were looking for) are a more effective indicator of success than arrest rates since arrests do not necessarily lead to a subsequent charge. In 2017 HMICFRS reported:

Finding the item searched for is one of the best measures of effectiveness and indicates that the grounds for the officer’s suspicions are likely to have been strong, particularly as recorded arrests and other criminal justice outcomes of stop and search also include those where the item that was searched for was not found.549

329.Similarly, Nick Glynn from Open Society Foundations told us that the use of arrest rates as an effective measure of stop and search was “lazy” and instead argued that a more nuanced approach to the figures was needed. In his view the “real question to be asked” was how many of the arrests led to a charge, to prosecution and to conviction.550

330.In its 2021 report, HMCIFRS noted that “almost one in ten arrests arising from stop and search were for public order offences after nothing was found […] Yet many forces continue to regard these as ‘positive outcomes’, despite the potential negative impact on police community relations”.551

331.In written evidence to us HMICFRS recommended the Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme, because it requires forces to record the “find rate”.552 However it told us that, generally, its monitoring of stop and search powers found that forces’ emphasis was “on outcome rates (and specifically arrest rates) rather than on the more accurate measure of effectiveness: the find rate”.553 According to Home Office figures [31 March 2020], in 13% of ‘reasonable grounds’ stop and searches the initial outcome was recorded as an arrest but “1 in 5 stop and searches (20%) resulted in an outcome that was linked to the reason for the search”.554 Both figures are extremely low.

332.The House of Commons Library briefing on police stop and search powers records that no-suspicion searches (section 60) “are less successful than reasonable grounds searches”.555 In 2019/20, 1.4% of no-suspicion searches led to officers finding a knife or offensive weapon (the only reason officers can use their no-suspicion search power).556 The find rate for no-suspicion searches since 2009/10 has typically been between 1% and 3%. The proportion of no-suspicion searches resulting in an arrest for an offensive weapons offence did not rise above 3% across the period.557

The impact of stop and search on crime levels

333.As highlighted in our predecessors’ Serious Youth Violence report, evidence on the effectiveness of stop and search at reducing violent crime is extremely limited.558 The report highlighted findings from a longitudinal study using ten years of data from London to examine the impact of the tactic on crime:

The researchers found that a 10% increase in stop and search (S&S) was associated with a drop in “susceptible crime” of 0.32% (monthly) or 0.14% (weekly)—a statistically significant but very small effect. When drug offences and drug-related stop and searches were excluded, the size of the effects halved.559

334.The longitudinal study also found that increasing the use of section 60 powers (stops without ‘reasonable grounds’) did not appear to affect violent crime.560 Previous Home Office research on the use of section 60 powers to reduce knife crime also found no effect.561 Some US research found small effects on some types of crime, with evidence that targeted stop and search on crime ‘hotspots’ had marginal positive benefits on crime figures across short periods of time i.e. in the weeks following the searches.562

335.In 2017 the College of Policing noted that, while some studies such as that above suggest an impact on crime, it is likely to be “small, highly localised and short-lived”, and that stop and search “tends to be less productive the more the power is used”.563 Matthew Ryder QC similarly told us that the “best interpretation you could put on the numbers is that they are inconclusive; there is not even correlation, let alone causation”.564

336.There is also a lack of evidence on the way in which stop and search tactics might impact on crime in the short or long-term. Suggested mechanisms vary and include tactics which: deter criminal behaviour, assist with successful police investigations (and subsequent prosecutions), or remove weapons and illegal substances from the community. The current evidence available does not consistently compare the potentially different effects on crime of various stops (for example, section 1, section 60 and section 163 stops) nor the different effects depending on the ‘reasonable grounds’ for stops (such as whether officers are searching for illegal substances, weapons or stolen property).

337.There is also a lack of evidence on the effects of section 60 stops (which are used in a defined area for a specific time) on crime in that localised area. Data are collected at timescales and geographical areas that are too large to capture potential effects.565

338.The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said in a speech in July 2018 that “when it’s done professionally, properly and with evidence - Stop and Search can be effective in taking drugs and weapons off our streets, and [is] therefore a vital tool we must use”.566 Similarly, the Home Office told us that it “fully” supported the police in its use of stop and search adding that it was “a vital and effective policing tool when used correctly”. The Home Office also committed to reviewing police powers to ensure that they were “effective” and did “not disproportionately impact on any one group”.567

339.In oral evidence to the Committee in July 2019, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us that:

What I know as a professional police officer of 36 years, who has worked nearly all that time in London, is that having confident officers who know their powers out on the streets, engaging with people and doing stop-search where appropriate, properly intelligence-led in the right places against the right people, undoubtedly makes a difference to violent crime.568

340.Following its review of the way the Metropolitan Police exercises stop and search powers, published in October 2020, the IOPC London Regional Director Sal Naseem concluded that “Stop and search is a necessary policing tool, but it must be used in the right circumstances and with care”.569

The impact of stop and search on communities

341.We heard evidence in our inquiry about the effect of stop and search on the individuals being stopped and the wider effect that has had on communities and their confidence in the police. In particular, we heard concerns about the manner in which stops were carried out.

342.Pastor Lorraine Jones, Founder and CEO of Dwaynamics, told us that she has managed Dwaynamics since her son was tragically killed through knife crime in 2014.570 The boxing and fitness services that her son initially established see police officers engaging with children and young people.571 She also facilitates community led stop and search workshops between the BME community and the Metropolitan Police.572 She told us that “The way stop-and-search is being done has caused a large ripple effect of trauma”. She told us that the police had referred a number of young people to her organisation, some who had been involved in crime but many more who had experienced trauma, directly or indirectly through “police misconduct and harshness in the borough”.573

343.Inspector Dan Popple, Fairness in Policing lead at West Midlands Police told us that his force was currently undertaking research to understand from the BME community perspective what it feels like to be stopped and searched. More than 150 people provided them with testimonies about their stop and search experiences; Inspector Popple told us “it wasn’t good reading” with people saying they felt targeted and that officers were rude.574

344.HMICFRS reported in February 2020 that of the nineteen forces it inspected only nine “had sufficiently trained their officers to recognise and overcome unconscious bias to help them treat people fairly”.575 It noted that while all forces trained their officers in conflict management skills, there was little training on communication skills such as showing empathy, listening, and explaining their actions. It said that “Investment in these areas would improve the quality of interactions with people the police stop and search and help reduce the need to use conflict management skills”.576

345.In October 2020, the IOPC published recommendations on the use of stop and search by the Metropolitan Police after reviewing five recent complaints and investigations involving stop and searches of Black men in London. It stated that it had found “a lack of understanding from officers about why their actions were perceived to be discriminatory”.577 The Metropolitan Police accepted the recommendations in full.

346.In particular, the IOPC raised concerns about the communication from officers, at the outset of interactions, in managing confrontations and in ending the encounter:

In some of these investigations, the quality of communication from the officers from the outset was poor. It is incumbent on officers to be mindful of all aspects of their communication–words, tone and non-verbal–in order to obtain the cooperation of the person being stopped and avoid conflict, escalation and resentment.

Rather than gaining the person’s cooperation by putting them at ease, the officers were confrontational and failed to adequately articulate the grounds for the searches, leaving the men feeling frustrated and unsure of what the motivating factor was.578

347.In May 2021, Dame Cressida Dick told us that the Metropolitan Police had accepted all the IOPC’s recommendations and was also implementing all the HMICFRS recommendations. She told us the Metropolitan Police was working directly with the communities it served and involving them in the development of its stop and search training.579 She added that this training developed “de-escalation and communication skills” for its officers, ensuring that everyone was treated with courtesy.580

348.The Mayor’s Office report on Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing published in November 2020 recognised, following a consultation with Black Londoners, that “a lack of diversity and cultural knowledge contributed to incidents where they felt officers had interacted with them based on stereotypes, with low regard for their dignity and respect”.581

349.In 2019, HMICFRS reviewed a small sample of body-worn video footage posted publicly to YouTube. While recognising the limitations of such samples, the Inspectorate said it was “disturbed by some of the footage”, noting in particular that:

350.In the same report, HMICFRS concluded that inappropriate use of stop and search powers has “adversely affected the relationship between the police and the communities they serve, and for some members of the public has brought into question the very legitimacy of the police service”. It continued that failure to use the powers carefully could be “inflammatory” and cause damage that could “potentially outweigh any increase in public safety from the police activity” by contributing to a “wall of silence” that impeded intelligence-led policing.583

351.It reported that:

In too many forces, officers and staff are not being sufficiently trained in informal communication skills for everyday interactions. Training can help to provide the skills officers and staff need to build rapport and prevent encounters from escalating to conflict or confrontation.584

Metropolitan police use of stop and search during the first national lockdown

352.The overall volume of stop and searches conducted by the Metropolitan Police dramatically increased in every London borough over the period of the first national covid-19 lockdown. Comprehensive data is not available yet for other forces which do not publish the same up to date transparent information as the MPS. However there is evidence that some other forces also increased stop and searches significantly during lockdown.585 Between April-June 2020 there were 105,367 stops carried out by the MPS,586 more than a 50% increase on the same period in the previous year, at a time when far fewer people were on the streets because of adherence to Government coronavirus regulations.587 The figures for May 2020 were particularly striking, 43,947 stops carried out in that month alone, an annual increase of 104%.588 This increase occurred in the context of a longer-term escalation in the Metropolitan Police’s use of stop and search powers: in 2017/18 the force conducted 134,619 searches across all categories, whereas in 2019/20 it conducted more than twice that number, 279,796.589

353.Responding to these figures, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police told the Committee that the increase in May was due to more patrolling time as a result of the overall fall in crime, and the “twin effect” of wanting to “be present on the streets to support the public and to reassure them” and to “continue to bear down on violent crime and on drug dealers in particular associated with violent crime”.590 Between May 2019 and May 2021, the majority (64%) of searches conducted by the Metropolitan Police were for drugs under s. 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, while the next most common reason, searches for weapons, points and blades under s. 1 PACE and s. 139 of the Criminal Justice Act, accounted for 16.3 of the total%.591

354.This dramatic escalation in the volume of stops and searches being conducted by the police coincided with the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protests across the UK, and led to a number of high-profile incidents, including stops conducted against Dwayne Francis, a school pastoral support worker, in Lewisham on 13 May; Sayce Holmes-Lewis, the founder and CEO of Mentivity, a community organisation in Southwark, and athletes Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos who were stopped and searched in West London after their car was stopped in July. Mr Holmes-Lewis told the Committee about the stop he experienced:

I was stopped on 5 May during lockdown delivering food to friends and family members that had issues with covid, and lost members of their family to covid, and I was profiled in under 45 seconds as a drug dealer […] For me personally it was four times in two months, so that was probably a record.592

355.As the volume of searches increased over lockdown so, it was reported, did the racial disproportionality. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime calculated that, whereas for the 12 months to March 2020, Black people who were stopped in London were 3.7 times more likely to be stopped than White people who were stopped in London,593 in May 2020 the disproportionality was 4.25.594 The disproportionality was even more pronounced for ‘reasonable grounds’ searches involving weapons, points and blades: for the year to March 2020, disproportionality was by a factor of 7;595 for May 2020, stop and searches for weapons, points and blades were 9.7 times more likely to be conducted against Black people in London than White people in London.596

356.The Commissioner, in response, referred to the positive outcome rate of searches.597 She told the Committee that “we have a positive outcome rate of just over 20%, whether you are White, Black or whatever […] the positive outcome rate is the same, whatever ethnic group you come from”.598

357.The positive outcome rate for both Black and White individuals decreased markedly from May 2019 to May 2020, falling from 24.8% to 19.8% for all searches.599 The positive outcome rate was considerably lower for weapons searches (which fell from 16.6% for May 2019 to 14.7% for May 2020) than for drugs (which fell from 27.9% to 21.4%).600

358.For drugs searches, there is no notable racial disparity in the outcome rate. However, the positive outcome rate for weapons searches in May 2020 was significantly lower for Black people stopped in London than White people stopped in London, with only 12.7% of weapons searches resulting in further action (compared to 18.9% for White people stopped in London). The ethnic disparity was particularly pronounced in certain boroughs: in Tower Hamlets, 9% (compared to 19% for White people stopped in London); and in Haringey and Lambeth, both 11% (compared to 15%).601

359.The combination of a considerable increase in the volume of searches and a fall in the outcome rate meant that, over the first national lockdown, a very considerable number of people were being stopped and searched in London without anything being found and with no further action being taken. Committee analysis of Metropolitan Police data found that 9,916 Black males between the age of 15 and 24 were stopped in May 2020. When set against 2011 Census data (the metric used by the Metropolitan Police for calculating rates per 1000 population), this suggests that in that one month alone there was one stop for every eight Black males between the ages of 15 and 24 in London. Of those stopped in May 8,215 Black males between the age of 15 and 24 had no further action taken against them, which is 83% of the 9,932 stopped in total.602

360.Across the whole of the April-June lockdown period the Metropolitan Police searched, but carried out no further action in respect of, 18,529 Black males between the ages of 15 and 24, the equivalent of 1 in 4 people in that group.603 This contrasts with the 1 in 100 young Black males who according to the Mayor of London’s Action Plan are involved in serious violence.

361.When these figures were put to the Commissioner in July 2020, she told the Committee

I am not alarmed. I have said before that I am alert and I remain alert.604

362.The Commissioner recognised, however, that “if three-quarters of the people who are stopped and searched do not have anything on them, there is potentially a cost—for want of a better word—in the community”.605

363.She told the Committee that “I will be like a hawk if it turns out that we are being objectively unfair and treating people differently, but I will come back to the point that at the moment the positive outcome rate is just the same across different communities”.606

364.Since July 2020, the number of monthly stop and searches conducted by the Metropolitan Police has fallen significantly.607 Since 43,947 stops were conducted in May 2020, the highest number of monthly stops was conducted in November 2020, when 26,844 people were stopped.608 The figure for May 2021 is 19,495 stops.609 The search rate disproportionality between Black and White individuals stopped in London also came down. Having reached 4.25 in May 2020 it has subsequently fluctuated between 3.2 and 3.8.610

365.The Mayor of London’s Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing Action Plan, published in November 2020, stated that:

Over the last few months, my team and I have been listening to the experiences and concerns of Black Londoners. There are clearly widespread feelings of anger and mistrust around disproportionality in the use of some police powers affecting Black Londoners, about the lower levels of confidence that many Black Londoners have in the MPS, and about how the MPS does not fully represent or understand Black communities in London.611

366.Twenty-two years on from the publication of the Macpherson report there remains a serious problem with racial disproportionality in stop and search. Black people are over nine and a half times more likely to be stopped and searched than White people. Despite the Macpherson report and the concerns raised and recommendations by many other community and policing organisations over the last two decades, the disproportionality is greater now than it was when the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry concluded. We agree with HMICFRS that these disparities undermine legitimacy, which is fundamental to the British model of policing by consent.

367.Stop and search is an important police power and the Macpherson report’s conclusion that it has a useful role to play in the prevention and detection of crime still applies. However the nature of the unexplained and unjustified racial disparities, and the way we have seen stop and search used, has too often damaged confidence both in stop and search itself and in policing by consent for the BME communities most affected by it. That confidence needs to be rebuilt. Policing needs to be fair and seen to be fair.

368.No evidence to this inquiry has adequately explained or justified the nature and scale of the disproportionality in the use of stop and search powers. This is especially the case for searches for the possession of drugs where evidence shows that Black people are less likely than White people to have used drugs in the last year, but are 2.4 times more likely to be stopped and searched for drug possession.

369.We recognise the importance of the police being able to take action against knife crime, and their concern that victims and perpetrators of knife crime are disproportionately Black, but we also note that this does not explain the fact that there are significant racial disparities in stop and searches in every force in the country, with some of the highest levels of disproportionality in areas with very low levels of knife crime.

370.The manner in which police forces conduct stop and search is particularly important in determining how that stop will be perceived both by the individual who is searched and their wider community. We heard troubling examples of stops and searches being conducted in a manner that was deeply alienating and uncomfortable. Given that the majority of people stopped and searched are not found to be committing any crime, it is extremely important that all stops are initiated in a respectful and appropriate manner, and care is taken to manage conflict and de-escalate encounters where necessary.

371.Stop and search needs to be used in a focused and targeted way. When it is not, it leads to injustice and to too many people being searched without good reason. The Metropolitan Police increased their use of stop and search during the early months of the first national covid-19 lockdown to the highest levels seen in London for many years and they did so at a time when far fewer people were on the streets. They were wrong to do so: the result was that far more people who were not committing crimes were stopped and searched, the proportion of searches which found weapons or drugs dropped, and the racial disparity widened. It should never have been possible for the equivalent of 1 in 4 Black males between the ages of 15 and 24 in London who were not committing a crime to be stopped and searched during a three-month period. This finding undermines arguments that stop and search was being used judiciously during this time. The Metropolitan Police has reduced the number of stop and searches in London since then but the impact of stop and search policies during that period was very damaging for community confidence not just in London but across the country.

Reforms to stop and search

Home Office reforms (2014–2019)

372.Following the 2011 riots, the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, asked Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC, now HMICFRS) to look at how forces were using stop and search.612 In 2013 HMIC published a highly critical report: Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?613 Which found that policing leaders had a poor understanding of the effective use of stop and search.614

373.Following the publication of the report, the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, said in 2014 that:

[…] when innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public. In those circumstances it is an unacceptable affront to justice.615

374.In 2014, in response to HMIC’s findings, the then Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, oversaw reforms to stop and search, including the introduction of new training standards and the voluntary Best Use of Stop and Search (BUSS) scheme guidance designed to promote more targeted and evidenced stops, greater police scrutiny and limiting the use of ‘no suspicion’ searches (under section 60 legislation).616

375.The BUSS scheme includes a requirement for forces to publish a broader range of data on outcomes following a stop and search. These include, for example, the number of times officers find the prohibited item they were looking for in their search (this is referred to as the ‘find rate’).617 The BUSS guidance also specifically places stricter criteria on the use of section 60 searches and requires forces to meet a higher standard of authorisation for its use than they are legally required to meet under the statutory section 60 authorisation requirements.618 Figure 13 below, drawn from a House of Commons Library briefing, presents a comparison between the BUSS and statutory section 60 authorisation requirements based on the College of Policing stop and search guidance.619

Figure 13: Summary of the differences between the BUSS scheme standard and the legal standard620

376.Since 2018, the Home Office has pursued a different approach to stop and search powers. Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP told the Police Superintendents’ Association’s annual conference that police officers needed to feel “comfortable and supported” when they stopped and searched, and that criminals in possession of dangerous weapons should not think they could “get away with it”.621 Mr Javid defended disproportionality in the figures by arguing “if you’re Black you’re more likely to be a homicide victim than any other ethnic group. If Stop and Search can mean saving lives from the communities most affected, then of course it has to be right”.622

377.In March 2019, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP launched a one year pilot with seven police forces, to examine the potential impact of making it “simpler” for forces to use section 60.623 Most of the BUSS reforms introduced by Theresa May were retained but as part of this pilot, he amended two of the conditions in the voluntary Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSS).624 These were: “reducing the level of authorisation required for a section 60 from senior officer to inspector”, and “lowering the degree of certainty required by the authorising officer so they must reasonably believe an incident involving serious violence ‘may’, rather than ‘will’, occur”.625 The stricter criteria for and scrutiny of section 60 stop and searches had been key aspects of the original BUSS guidance.626

378.David Munro, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ Lead on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, welcomed the changes made by the former Home Secretary while emphasising the importance of police engagement with communities in areas where changes to section 60 procedure were being made, both to ensure their involvement in the “fight against knife crime” and to build their trust in policing.627

379.In August 2019, following the formation of the new Government, the Home Secretary Rt Hon Priti Patel MP announced an extension of her predecessor’s section 60 pilot to all forces in England and Wales.628 She told BBC news that, “Stop and search works. We hear again and again from police that [they] need to be empowered”.629

380.She announced at the same time that all conditions in the BUSS ‘no suspicion’ section 60 search guidance would be lifted. Although the expectation of compliance with BUSS for the majority of searches under section 1 and 23 of PACE (‘reasonable grounds’ searches) was retained, this change in effect removed the expectation that any police force in England and Wales should comply with any element of the guidance on section 60 searches.630 The National Police Chief Council’s lead for stop and search, Deputy Chief Constable Adrian Hanstock, welcomed the changes, stating that the extension of the pilot to all police forces would “help to reduce bureaucracy and allow officers to use section 60 controls much faster when it is clear it is in the public interest to do so”.631 However, West Midlands Police, one of the six pilot areas, did not lower the level of authorisation needed to carry out section 60 searches during its inclusion in the initial pilot.632 The former West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, said that his force “already had the necessary powers to carry out section 60 stop and searches as required”.633

381.On 17 October 2019, seven months after the start of the Home Office’s section 60 pilot, the Department published two Equality Impact Assessments which evaluated it.634 Significantly, the reports noted that there was evidence to suggest that an increase in the use of stop and search was “unlikely to be conducive to improving community relations, including trust in the police”.635 Furthermore, in its assessment of the current use of section 60 the Home Office stated that it could not:

[…] discount the possibility of some level of discrimination - either towards individuals, or systematically in the policing of certain communities - as an explanatory factor for existing rates of disparity.636

382.The Home Office concluded that, “any increases in the use of s60 pose the risk of magnifying any residual levels of discrimination in the use of this power”.637

383.There has not been a published evaluation of the effect of changes to section 60 guidance. Although the volume of ‘no suspicion’ searches has increased in recent years (see paragraph 303), much of that increase pre-dates the further changes made by Sajid Javid or Priti Patel and is largely attributable to the increased use of the power by the MPS.

Figure 14: Stops and searches under section 60 CJPOA, England and Wales, years ending March 2007 to 2020.638

National policing measures to improve stop and search

Guidance

384.The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) Code A provides statutory guidance to police officers on fair, effective and lawful stop and search.639 The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice (APP) on stop and search provides guidance on its statutory requirements and also on “best practice”.640 In its guidance, the College states that supervising officers should monitor their staff’s stop and search records to ensure that the power is being used lawfully and professionally.641 It also outlines examples of how this monitoring might be carried out, such as by identifying any disproportionality and its underlying causes and analysing the frequency with which the item searched for is found.642

HMICFRS monitoring and inspections

385.HMICFRS conducts all-force inspections which look at the use of stop and search as part of its PEEL assessments. In March 2019 it told us that many police forces were “unable to explain” why there was an over-representation of BME people in their stop and search data.643 Over the course of a number of inspections, culminating in its 2021 report, it has been highly critical of aspects of the police’s use and understanding of stop and search, including its poor monitoring of the use of this power.644

386.In 2013 HMICFRS reported that 27% of the records it examined “did not contain sufficient reasonable grounds to justify the lawful use of the power”. In 2015 it found that 15% of records “did not have reasonable grounds recorded” and were therefore potentially unlawful. While in 2017 the proportion of records it found were without reasonable grounds had reduced to 6%, which the inspectorate said was “encouraging”, in 2019 this had returned to a much higher level, 18%.

387.The inspectorate has repeatedly returned to this issue to highlight its concerns and press for change. It recommended in December 2017 that by July 2018 all forces in England and Wales should be frequently monitoring “a comprehensive set of data” on their use of stop and search to understand the reasons for any ethnic disparity in its use, taking action where necessary to reduce any disparity and annually publishing its analysis and any consequent action.

388.In May 2019, however, while HMICFRS found that forces “were generally making progress”, it found continuing failures by forces to review body-worn camera footage, a lack of monitoring of the find rate by ethnicity, and failures by some forces to set up external scrutiny panels or to ensure such panels were independently chaired and represented local communities.645

389.The difficulty experienced by HMICFRS in securing change is demonstrated by the fact that, out of nineteen forces across England and Wales which HMICFRS reported on in February 2020:646

390.In its 2021 report, HMICFRS noted that while training on stop and search had improved, and there was “some innovative practice in stop and search training”, backlogs meant that “there are still gaps in too many officers’ skills and knowledge”, while “not all officers receive regular, timely training” and “some officers were not confident in using the powers despite the training”.648 None of the 43 forces had complied fully with the 2017 recommendation to comprehensively monitor stop and search powers, and the recommendation “still stands”.649 The report concluded that:

Forces are generally improving their understanding of stop and search, but too many are still failing to analyse and monitor a sufficiently comprehensive set of data. This means they can’t fully understand the reasons for the disproportionate use of the powers on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people. All forces identify some degree of disparity in their stop and search data, but too few are acting to address it.650

391.HMICFRS is unable to impose any sanctions or requirements on forces as this is beyond the scope of its role.651 In written evidence, Dr Rebekah Delsol told us that HMICFRS had done some “remarkable work on stop and search through its inspection process and should be credited with contributions to improving the standards and officers’ grounds for stop and search and increased arrest rates”.652 She maintained that despite the “powerful recommendations” it had made on stop and search, these had in “most cases” been ignored.653 She called for HMICFRS’s powers to be enhanced to ensure that it had “the teeth to drive meaningful change”.654

HMICFRS–recommendations to improve stop and search

392.HMICFRS’s 2021 report urged that action be taken in a number of areas to improve the police’s use of stop and search powers and use of force, including: on the recording, monitoring and analysis of data; on inviting external scrutiny of body-worn video and stop and search; on training, and on actions to prevent unfair behaviour.

Key recommendations of the HMICFRS report655 are set out in the text box below:

Recommendations from the HMICFRS report

  • With immediate effect, forces should ensure that all stop and search records include detail of the self-defined ethnicity of the subject. When this information is refused by the subject, the officer-defined ethnicity code should be recorded.
  • By July 2021, forces should ensure that communication skills are reinforced as part of the programme of continuing professional development for officers and staff, and that supervisors are supported to routinely and frequently debrief officers on these skills using body-worn video footage.
  • By December 2021, the Home Office should agree, nationally, a minimum standard for monitoring stop and search powers working in partnership with HMICFRS and other interested parties, such as the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
  • By July 2022, forces should ensure that officers and staff have effective communication skills, in line with the National Policing Guidelines on Conflict Management. This should be in addition to existing training on conflict management and de-escalation.

Initiatives to build community oversight and confidence

393.We also heard from witnesses about a range of new initiatives that have been introduced by both community leaders and police forces to foster more honest and transparent discussion between the police and BME communities, with a particular focus on the disproportionate use of police powers, including stop and search.656

394.Inspector Popple told us that his role in the West Midlands Fairness in Policing Team involved improving police legitimacy among local communities. He said this has included increasing the ‘community voice’ coming into the police service and developing procedural justice around stop and search, and considering what a good, fair stop and search looks like. He added that his force was looking to develop training in this area with a focus on reflective practice and restorative justice: bringing officers and individuals together to discuss openly and transparently how a particular stop and search encounter made each person feel and what could have been done better. He said that stop and search encounters needed to be humanised, with officers doing more to introduce themselves and explain the stop at an earlier point.657 As an example of this he highlighted that the prompt for an officer to identify their identity to the person being searched came fourth in the mnemonic GO WISELY and that this needed to change.658

395.As mentioned earlier Sayce Holmes-Lewis, Founder and CEO of Mentivity, a youth mentoring organisation, told us that he had been stopped and searched over thirty times since the age of fourteen, including four times during the first covid-19 lockdown.659 Following a stop and search incident in May 2020, where he claims he was profiled by the Metropolitan Police “in under 45 seconds as a drug dealer”, he initiated a training programme for Metropolitan Police officers aimed at improving their understanding of, and interaction with the Black British community.660 He told us the training focusses on “conscious bias”, perceptions of the Black community and how those views are formed, as well as how police officers can better communicate with the young Black British community during stop and search encounters, for example by explaining technical terms such as section 23s or section 60s.661 He said that stop and search cannot solve youth violence, which he argued is a consequence of socioeconomic problems and inequality.662 He told us that better policing for the future of our society would require investment in communities alongside more “empathy, education [and] understanding”.663

396.Pastor Lorraine Jones told us that the success and uniqueness of Dwaynamics is the way the police (particularly senior officers), young people and the community “engage in harmony”. She said:

When the police come into our environment, they experience our culture, our foods and our diversity of music and they learn more about us.664

397.Pastor Jones told us that there had been positive changes in her borough, with a reduction in drug dealing and violence in one particular area but said she could not say that local police attitudes to the BME community had “tangibly changed” particularly in light of the number of stop and searches that had been carried out on young Black boys during the covid-19 lockdown.665 She said that despite the good work her organisation was doing to improve police and BME community relations, it was a “drop in the ocean”. She argued that many more police officers needed to engage with the BME community in this way and the Government needed to invest more money in initiatives like hers in order to achieve substantive change.666

398.Following its completion of five investigations involving the stop and search of Black men by MPS officers in October 2020, the IOPC recommended that the Metropolitan Police Service take steps to address a lack of understanding from officers about why their actions were perceived to be discriminatory, to ensure “that assumptions, stereotypes and bias (conscious or unconscious) are not informing or affecting their officer’s decision making on stop and search”.667 Specifically, it presented the following proposals, which could be applicable to other forces too:

399.The Metropolitan Police accepted the IOPC’s recommendations. In November 2020, the Mayor of London’s Action Plan announced a series of “community-led” training initiatives, including in relation to stop and search. These initiatives are aimed at incorporating “direct community input into specific aspects of the training given to new recruits across the service”.669 As part of “Refreshed Stop and Search Training”, the Action Plan made the commitment that:

during their initial learning new recruits will spend time understanding the importance of cultural awareness and the impact of issues such as unconscious bias and disproportionality on communities across London, specifically Black communities. This includes scenario-based role plays such as ‘trading places’ exercises, where officers will be put in the shoes of the people they stop.670

400.The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities recommended that police officers should receive enhanced communication skills training to help them interact with communities, alongside a strategy to develop the effectiveness and implementation of stop and search. It considered that this would help to avoid conflict and discourage the use of force during stop and search and other procedures. It particularly specified that de-escalation training should be required for all new recruits and rolled out to “all current serving officers who are expected to interact with the public as part of their role”. It stated that such training should remain part of continual professional development at all levels of policing.671

Use of force

Handcuffing during stop and search

401.We heard concerns about the use of handcuffing during stop and searches.672 Police officers must seek the cooperation of those they search but they may use reasonable force as a “last resort”.673 The College of Policing ‘stop and search’ APP (Authorised Professional Practice) guidance states that “officers should not routinely handcuff people in order to carry out a stop and search” and that police use of force “should be proportionate to the aim of preventing crime”.674 Automatically handcuffing someone without first seeking their compliance with a search would be in breach of PACE Code A.675

402.Nick Glynn recognised the importance of officer safety and told us that “handcuffs should be used where there is sufficient risk” to an officer but argued that this ‘use of force’ (handcuffing) occurred where there was “little or no risk to the officer or anyone else”.676 He asserted there was an “implicit bias around the ‘danger’ inherent in Black people” that exacerbated the use of handcuffing and other uses of force, including Taser (see paragraph 413) against Black people.677 Similarly Katrina Ffrench claimed that the increase in the use of handcuffing in London was “causing people to feel they are not being policed by consent”.678 Professor Ben Bowling expressed concern about “proper scrutiny” of the use of force, including handcuffing and Tasers. He said if these powers could not be used fairly and safely that they should “come to an end”.679

403.As part of its 2021 report into Disproportionate use of police powers, HMICFRS noted that it had been told “anecdotally” that “handcuffs are regularly used during stop and search encounters” and that handcuffing during stop and search is becoming routine in some forces, whether or not it is necessary and proportionate”.680 It concluded that

This is troubling, not only for the adverse effect unjustified use might have on police relations with communities, but also because unjustified use of handcuffs is unlawful and could amount to an assault.

404.The report also identified shortcomings in compliance with NPCC recording requirements. It noted that two forces “were recording the use of handcuffs but weren’t recording compliant and non-compliant handcuffing separately” with the consequence that “they are less able to demonstrate to the public that their use of handcuffing is fair and appropriate, and less able to improve it by tackling potentially unfair or inappropriate handcuffing at an individual or organisational level”.681

The Metropolitan Police

405.In 2019/20, the ethnicity of the subject was recorded as Black or Black British in 36% of the instances where force was used by the Metropolitan Police. More specifically the ethnicity was recorded as Black or Black British in 39% of instances where non-compliant handcuffing was used and 43% of instances when a Taser was discharged.682 The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us that she did not believe she ran a police service in which handcuffing was routine.683 She added that any use of handcuffing “must always be justified and the justification has to be in the law and written down”.684

406.In July 2020, British sprinter Bianca Williams was stopped in her car and handcuffed alongside her partner while her baby son was in the back of her car.685 Video footage of the incident was shared widely on social media. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us that she was sorry to Ms Williams for the distress it had caused her and said that if there were lessons to be learned her force would learn them.686 She added that in light of “a number of issues raised over the last several weeks” that her force would be reviewing its handcuffing practices to ensure “it has not become in any way a default in certain situations, because it should not be”.687 In addition to this review she told us her force had recently established a “Use of Force Oversight Group” which would investigate these specific issues as well as use of force data.688

407.In 2021 Dame Cressida Dick informed us that the “Use of Force Oversight Group,” was chaired by a Deputy Assistant Commissioner and included community members, MOPAC and the IOPC. She said the group met every two weeks and reviewed a sample of BWV footage, disseminating any learning and ensuring that “any officers whose behaviour falls below acceptable standards is held to account”.689

408.The IOPC’s review of MPS stop and search incidents noted that “A common theme amongst our stop and search investigations has been that handcuffs have been used in nearly all instances” and registered its concern that “handcuffs are being used unnecessarily and where the use of other tactics could have de-escalated the encounter”.690 As a result, the IOPC recommended:

that the MPS take steps to ensure that officers exercising stop and search powers are not using restraint/handcuffs as a matter of routine and are only using these tools when reasonable, proportionate and necessary.691

409.It further recommended that

the MPS amend their stop and search records to include a question about whether any kind of force has been used. The records should also state where information about the kind of force will be recorded.692

410.An executive summary of the Metropolitan Police’s review into the use of handcuffs was published on 8 January 2021. The review acknowledged that “the use of handcuffs pre-arrest is an issue of community concern” and stated that it

needs to be justified on every occasion and cannot, and must not, be considered a matter of routine or common practise [sic] that is done without proper consideration and recording on each occasion.693

411.In May 2021, Dame Cressida Dick told us that following its pre-arrest handcuffing review it was developing a “specific policy on handcuffing pre-arrest that will set out clear guidance for officers”.694

412.Analysis to support the review showed that “handcuffing practice has not meaningfully changed since the introduction of new, additional recording methods for use of force in April 2017” and the volume “has remained stable”. It made ten recommendations, including clear guidance for officers on use of handcuffs, including the requirement to justify both their initial application and their continued use.695

Tasers

413.There have been a number of recent cases which have led to criticism of police use of Tasers. These include a man suffering life-changing injuries when he was shot with a Taser in London; a man who was Tasered at a petrol station in Stretford in front of his young son; footage of the father of rapper Wretch 32 being Tasered by police which has been shared on social media; and a Black father and his 13 year old son being tackled by police and threatened with Tasers during a charity bike ride in London.696

414.In May 2020 the IOPC issued a statement calling for greater scrutiny of Taser use amid “growing concerns both locally and nationally about its disproportionate use against Black men and those with mental health issues”, with the Director General, Michael Lockwood, stating that “There must be more research to understand issues of disproportionality”.697 The Metropolitan Police Commissioner told us she supported research currently taking place about the underlying issues and disproportionality in Taser adding that, “The more we understand, the better”.698 Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball told us her force was having “active conversations” with its community advisers to consider whether there were “different ways of approaching officers’ use of force and also their engagement with communities”.699

Disproportionality in the use of force

415.As part of its 2021 report, HMICFRS examined whether there was disproportionality in the use of force and concluded that despite limitations in the way police forces record ‘use of force’, and incomplete data (some forces are not recording the ethnicity of individuals subjected to force), “the data suggests a disproportionate use of force”.700 Based on 2019/20 data, it stated that Black people were about 5.7 times more likely to have force used on them than White people. The data further show that officers were more than nine times as likely to have drawn Tasers (but not discharged them) on Black people than on White people. Additionally, Black people were eight times more likely to be ‘compliant handcuffed’ than White people and over three times more likely to have a spit and bite guard used on them than White people. The report did not draw any conclusions about why such disproportionality existed but urged “further exploration”.701 Given the recent development of use of force data, the report stated that “it is not yet reliable enough to support definitive assessments”.702

Recording and monitoring use of force

416.From 1 April 2017, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) introduced the requirement for all police forces in the UK to record data on police use of force including when handcuffs and Tasers are used.703 In December that year HMICFRS found that eight forces were not complying with the new requirements due to “IT problems” and said that two of those forces were choosing not to comply.704 In its 2018 inspection of the Metropolitan Police, HMICFRS reported that the force was “fully compliant” in its use of force recording requirement but did not mention the force’s use of handcuffing during stop and search.705 HMICFRS has however remained critical of how police forces generally are recording their use of force. In 2019 it said that the poor recording and monitoring of incidents involving the use of force remained an “area of concern”.706 Data on the use of force is published by the Home Office which has stated that its ‘use of force’ statistics are “designated as Experimental Statistics” so their accuracy should not be assumed.707

417.HMICFRS examined whether forces were complying with the NPCC recording requirements and found that:

418.While recognising that “training on the use of force is good but there are some backlogs”, HMICFRS was critical of the police’s systems for overseeing their use of force.709 Despite expecting forces to have developed “relatively advanced processes” to aid the monitoring, governance and external scrutiny of their use of force, HMICFRS found “in too many forces they were either ineffective or non-existent”.710

419.The report urged that the absence of effective internal monitoring processes needed “to be addressed as a matter of urgency” and recommended that

420.In the twenty-two years since the Macpherson report there have been different attempts to reform the way stop and search has worked, but there has been little progress in addressing the unexplained and unjustified racial disparities or building confidence among BME communities. Despite the fact that basic, sensible policy recommendations have been made over many years including by HMICFRS, and we have seen some excellent local work done between police forces and local communities to tackle problems, too often these recommendations and initiatives have been piecemeal and not widely implemented or sustained. That needs to change urgently. Police forces and the Home Office need to take these failures seriously. In particular, we are very perplexed and disappointed that the ongoing recommendations made by HMICFRS since 2017 aimed at improving how stop and search is used are still not being adopted by all forces. The Home Office, NPCC and APCC need to agree a clear action plan endorsed by the National Policing Board to ensure that all forces are following the HMICFRS recommendations.

421.We are very concerned about shortcomings in data collection and transparency with regard to stop and search powers. It is inexcusable that forces do not have proper monitoring and oversight systems in place. In particular, there is far too great a disparity in the detail and consistency by which the tactic is monitored and recorded across all forces. We fully concur with the recent HMICFRS recommendation that, by December 2021, the Home Office should agree, nationally, a minimum standard for monitoring stop and search powers. This should include the recording and monitoring of the ethnicity of those who are subject to road traffic stops, as first recommended by Macpherson and his advisers over twenty-two years ago.

422.The lack of evidence available about the effectiveness of stop and search in reducing serious violence crime has contributed to scepticism about the basis for using the powers and therefore a lack of confidence in them. The Home Office should fill this evidential gap by commissioning a fully independent and comprehensive research study of stop and search tactics to better inform policy decisions at a central and local level. That study should necessarily focus on, but not be limited to, the effect of different stop and search powers on levels of crime; locality type (urban, rural); the type of stop deployed; the grounds and find rate. We advise that any such study should be longitudinal in design to allow researchers to map and identify trends over time with the expectation that they share regular updates in the interests of transparency and public scrutiny.

423.Police forces need to take very seriously their responsibility to address racial disparities in the way people are treated in their local communities. Too many forces are unable to explain the levels of racial disparities in their area and are still not engaging in serious attempts to monitor and explain or to change their approach. All forces must ensure they now do so in line with the HMICFRS recommendations. All forces must also put a proper system in place for conducting internal reviews of body worn video to ensure stop and searches are being carried out in line with College of Policing stop and search guidance.

424.We have heard about a number of important initiatives designed to improve the experience of stops, and particularly welcome those referred to in this report that have been introduced by both BME community leaders and police forces to foster more honest and transparent discussion about stop and search. However, there are clear gaps in police communication, conflict management and de-escalation training which need to be addressed so that police officers can use stop and search effectively and fairly as a tool in tackling crime. As recommended by HMICFRS, forces should ensure officers and staff receive training on effective communication skills, in line with the National Policing Guidelines on Conflict Management; this should be provided in addition to existing training on conflict management and de-escalation.

425.We believe that the confidence of local communities will only be earned if there is proper, independent oversight of stop and search, by the community at a local level and, at a national level, by HMICFRS and the Home Office. All forces should ensure that in addition to their internal reviews of body worn video, they also put arrangements in place for external reviews of body worn video involving community representatives both to build confidence and ensure improvements are made. We give further consideration to oversight in chapter nine.

422 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, para. 45.8.

423 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262–1, February 1999, para.6.45.

424 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, para. 46.31.

425 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, para. 45.8.

426 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, recommendations 60–63.

427 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, February 1999, para.45.8.

428 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262–1, February 1999; the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report’s first recommendation stated that “a Ministerial Priority be established for all Police Services: “To increase trust and confidence in policing amongst minority ethnic communities”.

429 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Report of an Inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262–1, February 1999, para.45.10.

433 House of Commons Library briefing, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021.

434 s1(2–3), Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

435 s1(8–9), Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

436 s23(2), Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

439 Home Office, PACE Code A, para.2.14A; House of Commons Library, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021.

440 College of Policing, stop and search, Legal basis (college.police.uk) [accessed 26 July 2021].

441 Home Office, National Statistics: Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, p6; see also Home Office table SS.01 stop and searches by legislation, England and Wales, 2001/02 to 2019/20. Note: These figures include Section 1 (and associated legislation), Section 60, and Section 44/47 stops. Data from 2009/10 onwards includes the British Transport Police (BTP) but excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP). GMP did not provide complete data for 2019/20, and have been excluded from previous years to provide a consistent time series. The police do not record road traffic stops and stop and search data does not include road traffic stops.

442 House of Commons Library, analysis of Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, Stop and search statistics data tables, table SS.01. Note: Data includes British Transport Police figures but excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP); House of Commons Library briefing, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021, p17.

443 Home Office, National Statistics: Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, p6; see also Home Office table SS.01 stop and searches by legislation, England and Wales, 2001/02 to 2019/20. Note: These figures include Section 1 (and associated legislation), Section 60, and Section 44/47 stops. Data from 2009/10 onwards includes the British Transport Police (BTP) but excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP). GMP did not provide complete data for 2019/20, and have been excluded from previous years to provide a consistent time series.

446 See, chapter six: Reforms to stop and search: Home Office reforms (2014–19).

447 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, see table SS.01 stop and searches by legislation, England and Wales, 2001/02 to 2019/20. Note: These figures include Section 1 (and associated legislation), Section 60, and Section 44/47 stops. Data from 2009/10 onwards includes the British Transport Police (BTP) but excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP). GMP did not provide complete data for 2019/20, and have been excluded from previous years to provide a consistent time series.

448 Home Office, National Statistics: Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, p6, the Home Office noted that data for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) was not included in this release as GMP was unable to supply stop and search data following the implementation of a new IT system.

449 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020 second edition, November 2020, stop and search statistics tables, tables ss:01.

450 Stop and search statistics data tables: police powers and procedures year ending 31 March 2020 second edition, SS.03: Stop and searches under section 1 of PACE (and associated legislation), by police force area and reason for search, England and Wales, 2019/2020.

453 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, see table SS.01 stop and searches by legislation, England and Wales, 2001/02 to 2019/20.

454 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, see table SS.01 stop and searches by legislation, England and Wales, 2001/2 to 2019/20; Section 60 searches peaked in the year ending March 2009 (150,000 searches). Home Office figures showed that police in England and Wales carried out 18,081 stops and searches under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in the year ending 31 March 2020. This was a sevenfold increase in the number of section 60 searches carried out in the year ending March 2018 (from 2,502 to 18,081).

455 House of Commons Library, Police powers: stop and search, March 2021.

457 Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020 second edition” November 2020, stop and search statistics tables, table ss:01. Not: Data includes British Transport Police figures but excludes Greater Manchester Police (GMP); House of Commons Library briefing, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021, p19.

458 Figure based on data from 10 selected police forces. Home Office, Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System, 1998, p13; The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, para. 45.9, February 1999.

459 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, p18, [published 27 October 2020]. Note: Includes searches under section 1 PACE and associated legislation, section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and section 47A of the Terrorism Act 2000; the Guardian, Stop and search up by almost a third in England and Wales, 24 October 2019. According to the Home Office user guide to Police powers and procedures, 31 March 2020: “The population figures used in this statistics report are mid-2019 population estimates provided by the Office for National Statistics”; see also Stop and search statistics data tables, 16 November 2020, Table SS.12.

460 House of Commons Library analysis of Home Office, Police powers and procedures year ending 31 March 2020, Stop and search statistics data tables, table SS.13. Note: British Transport Police stop and search figures are included; House of Commons Library briefing, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021, p23; Government ethnicity data for stop and search can also be viewed at Ethnicity facts and figures: stop and search.

461 Gov.uk, ethnicity facts and figures, stop and search, 8 download the data, 22 February 2021; Stop and search - GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk).

465 Stop and search - GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk); this data covers stop and search of individuals under the following Acts: section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (and associated legislation including section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971) – the police can stop and search someone they think is carrying items like stolen property or drugs. The data shows that, between April 2019 and March 2020: 97% of all stop and searches in England and Wales were under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

467 Q60.

469 MPR0039 National Association of Muslim Police.

470 MPR0068 Anonymous participants, Q11. A young BME person who for safeguarding reasons was unable to attend a private roundtable held by the Committee in May 2019 on their experiences and views of their relationship with the police, and whose testimony was subsequently provided via a recorded interview.

471 Q66.

472 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 Summary” [accessed 24 June 2021].

473 Q66.

474 MPR0040 StopWatch.

475 MPR0068 Anonymous participants, Q65. A young BME person who for safeguarding reasons was unable to attend a private roundtable held by the Committee in May 2019 on their experiences and views of their relationship with the police, and whose testimony was subsequently provided via a recorded interview.

476 MPR0068 Anonymous participants, Q104. A young BME person who for safeguarding reasons was unable to attend a private roundtable held by the Committee in May 2019 on their experiences and views of their relationship with the police, and whose testimony was subsequently provided via a recorded interview.

486 MPR0060, Home Office.

491 HC Library based on Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020 second edition, Stop and search open data tables second edition, accessed 28 April 2021 and 2011 Census.

492 Home Office SS. table 15, Proportion of stop and searches by self-defined ethnicity, England and Wales 2018/19 and 2019/20, statistics quoted are for section 60 searches.

493 Population of England and Wales - GOV.UK Ethnicity facts and figures (ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk), Population of England and Wales, published 1 August 2018, [last updated 7 August 2020].

494 Home Office SS. table 15, Proportion of stop and searches by self-defined ethnicity, England and Wales 2018/19 and 2019/20, statistics quoted are for section 60 searches.

496 MPR0058 Dr Rebekah Delsol, StopWatch.

500 MPR0058, Dr Rebekah Delsol, StopWatch.

501 Home Affairs Select Committee, Serious Youth Violence, HC 1016, 31 July 2019, para 136; Q313, Serious Youth Violence inquiry.

505 Home Office, Stop and search open data tables second edition, first edition published 27 October 2020, second edition published 6 November 2020; to note that there is no information on the number of weapons seized over this period.

508 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, Community Concerns, para.46.31, February 1999.

509 MPR0030, Liberty.

510 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, Community Concerns, para.46.31, February 1999.

511 The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Report of an inquiry by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny, Cm 4262-I, Community Concerns, para.46.31, February 1999.

512 HMIC, Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly? 2013, p18; In England and Wales, police officers’ powers to stop motor vehicles are enshrined in section 163 Road Traffic Act 1988, which states: “A person driving a motor vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform”.

515 MPR0040, StopWatch.

516 MPR0040, StopWatch.

523 Equality and Human Rights Commission, Stop and Think, A critical review of the use of stop and search powers in England and Wales, published 1 March 2010.

524 Equality and Human Rights Commission, Stop and Think, A critical review of the use of stop and search powers in England and Wales, published 1 March 2010.

527 MPR0040 StopWatch.

528 MPR0040 StopWatch The Colour of Injustice: ‘Race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales, Michael Shiner, Zoe Carre, Rebekah Delsol and Niamh Eastwood, October 2018.

529 MPR0040 StopWatch.

530 Gov.UK, Ethnicity facts and figures, stop and search, Section 5, By ethnicity and area, updated 22 February 2021. These statistics represent the time period from April 2019 to March 2020, based on the Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales year ending March 2019.

531 Gov.UK, Ethnicity facts and figures, stop and search, Section 5, By ethnicity and area, updated 22 February 2021. These statistics represent the time period from April 2019 to March 2020, based on the Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales year ending 31 March 2019 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).

535 Gov.uk, Ethnicity Facts and Figures - Stop and search , published 22 February 2021; Crime in England and Wales: Police Force Area data tables - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk) Sept 2020. Published 22 February 2021. Analysis by Committee staff from data by county on how many times Black people were stopped vs all stops (where ethnicity was reported).

549 HMICFRS, PEEL: Police legitimacy 2017 A national overview, December 2017, p.24; also see HMICFRS 2013 and 2015 reports. HMICFRS noted that the potential criminal justice ‘outcomes’ of stop and search included arrest, summons, caution, drug warning, penalty notice for disorder, community resolution and no further action. also see HMICFRS 2013 and 2015 reports which highlighted that the number of arrests and other criminal justice outcomes arising from stop and search encounters can be a misleading measure of success, because they fail to take into account some important points, including: the purpose of stop and search powers is to allay as well as confirm officers’ suspicions without exercising their power of arrest, and to provide safeguards for those who are searched and recorded arrests and other criminal justice outcomes also include those where the item that was searched for is not found. [In its 2017 report, (p23) HMICFRS noted that the potential criminal justice ‘outcomes’ of stop and search included arrest, summons, caution, drug warning, penalty notice for disorder, community resolution and no further action.]

550 MPR0059 Nick Glynn, Open Society Foundations.

552 MPR007 HMICFRS. See section on “Reforms to stop and search” later in this chapter (six) which explains the BUSS scheme guidance was designed to promote more targeted and evidenced stops, greater police scrutiny and limiting the use of ‘no suspicion’ searches (under section 60 legislation).

553 MPR007 HMICFRS.

555 HC Library Briefing Paper, Police powers: stop and search, p26, 10 March 2021.

556 HC Library Briefing Paper, Police powers: stop and search, p26, 10 March 2021.

557 HC Library Briefing Paper, Police powers: stop and search, p26, 10 March 2021.

558 House of Commons, Home Affairs Committee, Serious Youth Violence, HC106, p48, para. 139, 31 July 2019.

559 Tiratelli, M., Quinton, P., & Bradford, B. Does Stop and Search Deter Crime? Evidence From Ten Years of Londonwide Data, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 58(5), September 2018, Pages 1212–1231. To note that ‘susceptible crimes’ are those crimes that are susceptible to detection by stop and search.

560 Ibid.

561 Home Office, Rhydian McCandless, Andy Feist, James Allan and Nick Morgan, Do initiatives involving substantial increases in stop and search reduce crime? Assessing the impact of Operation BLUNT 2, March 2016, p8.

562 Weisburd, D.L., Wooditch, A., Weisburd, S., Yang, S., Do Stop, Question, and Frisk Practices Deter Crime?: Evidence at Microunits of Space and Time, Criminology and Public Policy, 2015, p.16

563 Stop and search (college.police.uk) [accessed 26 July 2021].

565 Reporting from police data does not give information about the time incidents occurred so may not currently be clear if a section 60 did reduce crime during/after it was imposed.

566 Mayor of London press release, Mayor of London speech on the causes of crime, 15 July 2019.

567 MPR0029 Home Office.

575 HMICFRS, PEEL spotlight report: PEEL spotlight report: Diverging under pressure, February 2020 p17.

576 HMICFRS, PEEL spotlight report: PEEL spotlight report: Diverging under pressure, February 2020 p17.

579 MAC0056 Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

580 MAC0056 Written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

586 Metropolitan Police stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary”, [accessed 6 July 2021].

587 House of Commons Library based on Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

588 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

590 Metropolitan Police Service, Stop and Search dashboard “S&S R12 Summary” [accessed 21 June 2021].

591 Metropolitan Police Service, Stop and Search dashboard, “S&S R12 Summary” [accessed 21 June 2021].

594 Metropolitan Police Service, Stop and Search dashboard, “Search Proportionality” [accessed 21 June 2021].

596 Metropolitan Police Service, Stop and Search dashboard, “Search Proportionality” [accessed 21 June 2021].

597 Full Fact, Stop and search in England and Wales, 24 June 2019: a ‘positive outcome’ is when a stop and search uncovers something relevant but not necessarily the item the officer was originally searching for. ‘Positive outcome’ searches refer to any case where action is taken against individuals who have been stopped and searched. This includes arrest cases but also other resolutions like warnings and Penalty Notices. All cases where there is no positive outcome are called “No Further Actions”.

599 MPS, Stop and Search dashboard “Outcome Rates From Searches” [accessed November 2020].

600 MPS, Stop and Search dashboard “Outcome Rates From Searches” [accessed November 2020].

601 Metropolitan Police Service, Stop and Search dashboard, “Search Proportionality” [accessed 21 June 2021].

602 Calculation on 30 April 2021 from data at Stop and search dashboard | The Met.

603 Calculation on 30 April 2021 from data at Stop and search dashboard | The Met.

607 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

608 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

609 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

610 Metropolitan Police Service, stop and search dashboard, “S&S R12 summary” [accessed 6 July 2021].

612 Gov.uk, Stop and search: Theresa May announces reform of police stop and search, 30 April 2014.

614 Ibid.

615 HC Deb, Stop-and-Search, 30 April 2014, Vol. 579, Col.831.

616 MPR0040 StopWatch.

617 Home Office, College of Policing, Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, 2014.

618 Home Office, College of Policing, Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, 2014.

619 College of Policing, Authorised Professional Practice, Stop and search legal basis, accessed 6 February 2020.

620 House of Commons library, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021, p.11. Sources for table: College of Policing, Authorised Professional Practice, Stop and search legal basis; Home Office and College of Policing, Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, 26 August 2014, p6.

623 Home Office, Greater powers for police to use stop and search to tackle violent crime, 31 March 2019; The changes to section 60 initially applied in areas particularly affected by violent crime - London, West Midlands, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, South Wales and Greater Manchester - for up to a year.

624 Home Office, Greater powers for police to use stop and search to tackle violent crime, 31 March 2019; The Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (2014) is voluntary but as outlined in the Home Office and College of Policing guidance [see previous link]: those forces who sign up to the scheme are “expected to adhere to all its components, subject to exceptional circumstances”. The guidance stated that “[…] nothing in the Scheme is binding in law; statute and case law on stop and search therefore remain unaffected”. Home Office official statistics on BUSS confirmed that “all forces in England and Wales are signed up to the BUSS scheme. See, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2018, October 2018, p.33”.

625 Ibid.

626 House of Commons Library Police powers: stop and search, March 2021.

627 Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, APCC response to government announcement on stop and search, 1 April 2019.

630 Ibid.

634 Home Office, Stop and Search ‘Section 60’ pilot: Equality Impact Assessments, published 17 October 2019. Note that these EIAs reflect Government changes made to BUSS in March 2019 and August 2019, to relax forces’ use of section 60.

635 Home Office, Stop and Search ‘Section 60’ pilot: Equality Impact Assessments, published 17 October 2019. Note that these EIAs reflect Government changes made to BUSS in March 2019 and August 2019, to relax forces’ use of section 60.

636 Home Office, Stop and Search ‘Section 60’ pilot: Equality Impact Assessments, published 17 October 2019. Note that these EIAs reflect Government changes made to BUSS in March 2019 and August 2019, to relax forces’ use of section 60.

637 Home Office, Stop and Search ‘Section 60’ pilot: Equality Impact Assessments, published 17 October 2019. Note that these EIAs reflect Government changes made to BUSS in March 2019 and August 2019, to relax forces’ use of section 60.

638 Home Office, Police powers and procedures, England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2020, second edition, published 27 October 2020, p12.

640 The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice guidance, Stop and search.

641 The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice guidance, Stop and search.

642 The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice guidance, Stop and search.

643 The College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice guidance, Stop and search.

644 House of Commons Library, Police powers: stop and search, March 2021, p.19.

651 HMICFRS, About Us, updated 17 May 2018.

652 MPR0058, Dr. Rebekah Delsol, StopWatch.

653 MPR0058, Dr. Rebekah Delsol, StopWatch.

654 MPR0058, Dr. Rebekah Delsol, StopWatch.

658 Q107; House of Commons, Police powers: stop and search, 10 March 2021, for a detailed explanation of GO WISELY: the mnemonic GO WISELY is used to help officers remember what they must say and what it is helpful to say during a stop and search encounter. Officers should follow GO WISELY. For example, G stands for: A clear explanation of the officer’s grounds for suspicion and I stands for: Identify of the officer.

669 Mayor of London, Action Plan - Transparency, Accountability and Trust in Policing, pp 29–30; p6, November 2020.

672 MPR0059, Nick Glynn, Open Society Foundation; Q34; Q39; Q41.

674 College of Policing, Stop and search: legal application, [last accessed 13 July 2020].

676 MPR0059, Open Society Foundations.

677 MPR0059, Open Society Foundations.

678 Q34 We discuss the Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s views on handcuffing practices in the next section: The Metropolitan Police.

679 Q23.

680 HMICFRS, Disproportionate use of police powers, February 2021, p.25.

681 HMICFRS, Disproportionate use of police powers, February 2021 p.23.

682 Mayor of London, Metropolitan Police Use of Force Dataset, FY19–20.

684 Q13.

686 Q13.

687 Q13.

688 Q13.

689 MAC0056 ,written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

694 MAC0056, written evidence submitted by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

698 Q40.

700 HMICFRS, Disproportionate use of police powers, February 2021, p22. Not all forces HMICFRS inspected “were making enough effort to ensure that their officers record each occasion when they use force”.

701 HMICFRS, Disproportionate use of police powers, February 2021, p5.

702 HMICFRS, Disproportionate use of police powers, February 2021, p22.

707 Home Office, Police use of force, England and Wales: April 2019 to March 2020, Experimental statistics, 17 December 2020, p2; User guide to police use of force statistics, p11, notes that: the “‘Police use of force’ collection is currently designated as Experimental Statistics, as it is relatively newly established and subject to various data quality issues”.




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