Ministers have ruled out dropping the “reasonable grounds” requirement for stop and search following left-wing outcry that the tactic is “racist”, despite police pleas to widen the powers.
Breitbart London previously reported that police officials had been in talks with the Home Office over the last two weeks about relaxing the rules in response to knife crime surging across England and Wales.
But on Monday, policing minister Nick Hurd announced that while the government wanted to “reduce bureaucracy” related to the tactic, he told the House of Commons, “We don’t want to go back to the bad old days of stop and search”.
Responding to a question from shadow minister Afzal Khan, he said: “The house should be clear that we have no plans to change the requirements that reasonable grounds for suspicion are needed before a routine stop and search is carried out.”
Khan’s London: Three Teens Stabbed as Police Boss Claims Knife Crime Under Control https://t.co/UA016FYUdT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 3, 2018
Figures show the number of stop and searches carried out plummeted and violence began to soar following the introduction of the requirement in 2015, when the then-Home Secretary Theresa May — now Prime Minister — claimed slashing police use of the tactic would “actually help reduce knife crime” by improving trust between young black men and the police.
Describing routine searching of suspects as a “colossal waste of police resources”, Khan urged the policing minister to dismiss pressure to expand powers amidst the deadly crime epidemic which has seen five people killed within the space of just one week in London.
Politicians across the House were “absolutely determined to bear down on this horrendous spike in violent crime”, Hurd asserted in reply, but stressed that ministers “need to make sure that the police have the confidence to use the tools at their disposal”.
“And stop and search is one of those tools,” he added. “There is evidence that they have lost some confidence in using it.”
Backing this view in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph, former Nottinghamshire Police detective Andrew O’Hagan argued that officers today are “too afraid to use” stop and search powers for fear of losing their jobs amidst accusations of racism.
Diane Abbott Enraged After Tory MP Backs Stop and Searching Minorities: ‘They’re More Likely to Kill’ https://t.co/N7dCXUSND6
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 10, 2018
Labour responded to reports that the government was going to relax requirements for searching suspects with a statement in which Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott claimed the tactic has done nothing but “[poison] relationships between young people and the police”.
“Racism is against the law and should never be tolerated. Stop and search is already too easily done on the basis of racial profiling,” the Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP alleged.
Merseyside Police chief Andy Cooke condemned the public focus on whether use of the tactic was disproportionate earlier this year, when he described stop and search as the “single greatest power that the police have to target and disrupt crime”.
“This is about criminality not race. There’s an awful lot of advice from people not involved in policing around this issue. I would ask that they let police officers get on with the job. There’s the right scrutiny in place and it is the right thing to do,” he told The Times.
London Hits Highest Levels of Knife Crime Ever, as One in Five Adults Experience a Crime in 12 Months https://t.co/slZrEp4WEg
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 18, 2018