Stop And Search, The Work Of The Devil, Right?

I wasn’t intending to write anything at all this morning, but this headline from the Grauniad changed my mind.

Met police criticised for multiple errors in stop and search practice

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

The IOPC made 11 recommendations for the Met, Britain’s biggest force, for reform of its policies. “There is clearly much room for improvement,” it said.

What exactly is this profound statement based on? The answer to that is apparently a mere 5 complaints examined by our friends at the Independent Office for Police Conduct. FIVE, yes 5.

I have absolutely no idea how many complaints the Met receives in a year relating to Stop and Search, never mind how how many get substantiated, but I do know how many Stop/Searches officers from the Met carry out in a year.

To put some context on this alarming revelation from IOPC, let’s look at some other numbers. At this current time there are just under 32,000 (FTE) officers in the Met. These 32,000 officers, between them, carried out a grand total of 303,583 Stop/Searches under all relevant powers in the past 12 months.

32,000 officers have carried out 303,000 Stop/Searches and the IOPC issue their “There is clearly much room for improvement,” statment based on that.

I have no desire to defend unethical or unlawful practices, but really? The IOPC are clearly of the mindset that there are systemic failings at work here. I would say that there are possibly training issues highlighted for a very small number of officers.

To the IOPC I say this. You really do need to up your game. You are making yourselves look petty-minded, vindictive and government puppets. The lurid headlines do nothing but unfairly undermine the confidence of the public in their Police Service, so I will re-write the Guardian’s headline for them, and perhaps you can examine your own policies and when your organisation is 100% without fault and blame you can ask me to examine the situaton again.

Nothing Wrong With 303,578 Stop/Searches in The Met

Addendum

I have just read the IOPC Press Release. Having done so, I’m not at all surprised by their findings

The IOPC recently completed five investigations involving the stop and search of Black men by MPS officers and reviewed the collective evidence gathered to consider disproportionality, legitimacy and how force was used.

If you pick 5 complaints about Stop/Search on black males and your object is to find ‘Disproportionately’ it should come as no surprise if you find it.

So, having studied these FIVE complaints they came up with ELEVEN recommendations

  • taking steps to ensure that their officers better understand how their use of stop and search powers impacts individuals from groups that are disproportionately affected by those powers
  • ensuring there is a structure in place so leaders and supervisors are proactively monitoring and supervising the use of stop and search powers and addressing any concerning trends or patterns/ sharing any identified good practice at; individual, unit or organisational level
  • taking steps to ensure that assumptions, stereotypes and bias (conscious or unconscious) are not informing or affecting officer’s decision making when carrying out stop and searches, especially when using these powers on people from Black communities
  • ensuring officers are not relying on the smell of cannabis alone when deciding to stop and search someone and use grounds based upon multiple objective factors
  • ensuring officers carrying out stop and searches always use the principles of GOWISELY and engage in respectful, meaningful conversations with the persons being stopped
  • ensuring stop and search training incorporates a section on de-escalation, including the roles of supervisors and colleagues in controlling the situation and providing effective challenge
  • ensuring officers exercising stop and search powers are ending the encounters once their suspicion has been allayed, in a manner that minimises impact and dissatisfaction, unless there are further genuine and reasonable grounds for continued suspicion
  • ensuring 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
  • amending 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
  • ensuring officers are following APP and MPS policy and switching on their body-worn video camera early enough to capture the entirety of a stop and search interaction
  • supervisors taking a proactive role in monitoring and ensuring compliance with body-worn video APP and MPS policy.

Without Fear Or Favour

Just a short post today, and then I’m off to take my meds and lie in a darkened room.

Two athletes that I have never heard of got stopped by some TSG officers apparently due to the manner of driving of the car that they were in.  For whatever reason (I wasn’t there) it didn’t go at all well and the two athletes ended up being quite stressed by the whole experience.

As is normal (or maybe compulsory) in these circumatnces, heavily edited footage was circulated on Social Media, but quite why they were filming events before they had even been stopped is a mystery to me.

Eventually they were allowed on their way, and they, together with another former athlete who wsn’t there either, excercised their right to complain across Social Media.

The actions of the officers, the evidence from their Body Worn Video and the footage from Social Media were reviewed by officers from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards – TWICE.

Twice they formed the opinion that there had been no Misconduct by the officers.  TWICE.

Now we have the situation where Dame Dick has referred the Force (i.e. the officers involved) to the Independent Office for Polce Conduct for an investigation, even though it has twice been decided that the officers did nothing wrong.

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said the IOPC would look at whether the use of stop and search was appropriate and proportionate in line with approved police policies, adding: “We will also investigate if racial profiling or discrimination played a part in the incident.”

Dame Dick, either personally or via another Senior Officer, then offered a grovelling apology to the athletes for the distress and hurt feelings they had endured at the hands of those poor TSG Officers.

Policing WITHOUT FEAR OR FAVOUR is now effectively dead, certainly in London.  No matter how professionally, patiently and courteously the officers on the streets conduct their duties, hanging over their head is the prospect of a Senior Officer somewhere saying “Our officers did nothing wrong, but we’re frightfully sorry and we will have them investigated.”

How does Policing the streets continue like that?