Police stop and search powers to be overhauled

Police Lantern UKsource: BBC News
published: 30 April 2014

Police stop and search powers in England and Wales are to be overhauled with a revised code of conduct, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

She told MPs an inquiry had found 27% of searches may have been illegal.

She said that if the number of stop and searches did not now come down, she would seek to change the law.

The move follows a consultation, which highlighted concerns that stop and search was used too widely and was unfairly targeting ethnic minorities. Labour say the plans do not go far enough.

Recent figures show only about 10% of more than a million searches lead to an arrest, with black people six times more likely to be stopped than those who are white.

At present, police can stop someone if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime, such as a crowbar.

However, under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, officers can also stop and search someone without suspicion that they are involved in wrongdoing if approved by a senior officer, for example, because there is a fear that serious violence could take place.

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