Stop And Search – A Peace Offering (Of Sorts)

There has been much animated discussion on Twatter over the weekend on the thorny subject of Stop and Search. There have been suggestions (often ignored), anger, sarcasm and even personal abuse from both sides of the argument.

I have given the subject much thought over the past 48 hours and I’m not sure the two sides of the argument will ever agree on anything.  My personal opinion is that is because they are approaching the same problem from two different directions, from different disciplines and with totally different objectives and agendas.

My thoughts, for what they’re worth, are these;

The law, in the form of s1 Police and Criminal Evidence Act allows the Police in England and Wales to stop and search an individual under certain conditions. (s60 is totally different and I will not be discussing it here)

A constable may exercise any power conferred by this section—
(a) in any place to which at the time when he proposes to exercise the power the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission; or
(b) in any other place to which people have ready access at the time when he proposes to exercise the power but which is not a dwelling.

Subject to subsection (3) to (5) below, a constable—
(a) may search—
(i) any person or vehicle;
(ii) anything which is in or on a vehicle,
for stolen or prohibited articles [F1, any article to which subsection (8A) below applies or any firework to which subsection (8B) below applies] ; and
(b) may detain a person or vehicle for the purpose of such a search.

Next comes what I think is the most important part of the current debate;

This section does not give a constable power to search a person or vehicle or anything in or on a vehicle unless he has reasonable grounds for suspecting that he will find stolen or prohibited articles

Unless he/she has REASONABLE GROUNDS THAT HE/SHE WILL FIND STOLEN OR PROHIBITED ARTICLES. That is the knub of the matter. Wether to Stop/Search or not to Stop/Search is an operatinal matter for the officer involved to consider and take the appropriate action at the time of the ‘incident’. Officers are accountable in this and have to record the reasons for the Stop/Search and provide (on request) a copy of the written Stop/Search record to the person who has been Stop/Searched.

What is so unclear about all of that, that it needs endless debate as to wether or not more Stop/Search would be effective? Why is it so contentious to people who have nothing to fear?

In an ideal world Stop/Search is like water, it will find its own level, a level appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and available intelligence.

Now it’s my turn to be contentious. I’m sure my reader will inform me if I’m too far off the mark.

Stop/Search (s1) is a POWER given to us by the lawmakers of England and Wales (Parliament). I see absolutely no reason not to use it as many times as is appropriate. What is vitally important is that it is used CORRECTLY. The GROUNDS need to exist. There is absolutely no reason why, in the vast majority of cases, it can’t be carried out with courtesy, understanding and professionalism. In those rare cases where the subject being Stop/Searched chooses to resist then he/she can be removed to the Police Station where the procedure can be carried out out of the glare of the public eye and under the care and supervision of the Custody Officer. What on earth is wrong with that? Why should that be demonstrably contentious?

What is vitally important for this to work is an adequate level of Training. No officer should be unleashed onto the streets and still be unsure of what their powers are under PACE and how to use them properly. At the bare minimum they should be accompanied and supervised by somebody who does know what to do.

Not Rocket Science is it?

The problem is that Stop/Search is a ‘dirty’, hands-on procedure that doesn’t translate well into the classroom or the analyst’s workbook. It is not an exact science. We can all crunch numbers and come up with a variety of hypotheses. Unfortunately those hypotheses aren’t worth the fag packets they’re written on if they’re not tested.

I’ve heard much said about Stop/Search ‘targets’, particularly one of a 20% Arrest Rate in the Met. I retain my view that such numerical targets are unlawful because they take no account of ‘Grounds’ and encourage officers to conduct Stop/Search procedures without those vitally important grounds merely to attain a Target and keep the bosses happy. Am I wrong? I suspect that the 20% rate in London is actually a figure they would ‘hope’ to achieve and not an actual target.

So, how can we appease the opposition? My suggestion is totally binary;

  1. Continue with Stop/Search in its current form with no changes to legislation or practice/methodology BUT it is vitally important that ALL officers (including Senior Officers and IOPC) are trained to the highest levels in what is required to constitute a lawful Stop/Search, and how to professionally conduct one.
  2. OR Government can repeal s1 PACE. Stop/Search will cease overnight because nobody likes it anyway and it isn’t effective and we can all sit back and see what happens to the streets of our towns and cities. maybe words like ‘causation’ and ‘correlation’ will have a clearer meaning then.
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Are Theresa May’s Policies The Real Reason Behind Our Children Being Killed By Knives?

Yes……….in a word.

Why do I say that so positively?

This won’t take long, but here is why I think that.

After their election victory in 2010 David Camoron appointed Theresa May as Home Secretary and she in turn engaged Tom Winsor to write an ‘Independent’ review on Policing, which came remarkably close to mirroring one of David Camoron’s speech from 2006.

Tom, as we know, later went on to become Head Fred at Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, despite never having served in the Police Service at any rank. I wonder what Her Majesty made of that. Even later he became Sir Tom, for reasons that elude me.

Whilst the Police Service was still reeling from the recommendations of Winsor’s ‘Independent’ Reviews they were hit by two sledgehammers from Theresa May.

1. Police budgets will be cut due to #Austerity (yeah, right) which, to date, has resulted in the loss of approx 21,000 warranted Police Officers with a lower number of PCSOs and Police Support Staff, and the closing of approx 650 Police Stations.

2. In her 2014 speech to the Police Federation Theresa May issued an edict that Stop and Search must be curtailed, or there would be ‘consequences’, because certain members of the population were unhappy about it.

Please note the two charts below. I will deliberately NOT claim that there is any correlation between the datasets, I merely present the facts. After the lashing I got from Dr Ben this week I must bow to his undeniable superior intelligence so I will leave it to him and the other Academics to explain them.

Fig 1

Figure 1 shows the total number of Stop/Searches conducted in England and Wales against the total number of Knife-Related Murders.

Fig 2

Figure 2 shows the total number of Police Officers in England and Wales against the total number of Knife-Related Murders.

Three FACTS are apparent from these two diagrams. Two of the FACTS are directly related to Theresa May’s policies.

  1. Stop and Search has REDUCED
  1. Police numbers have REDUCED
  1. Knife-Related Murders have INCREASED.

With facts like these staring them in the face, the College of Policing, UK Home Office and anybody else who can actually achieve anything should get off their arses, stop having nice chatty meetings and actually commission some proper research to

a) Establish if there is any correlation between all three of the FACTS

b) Identify, and put into action, a proactive, multi-agency plan to put an end to the carnage on our streets. We have had too many young people slaughtered already, we don’t need any more. I will say it again, I don’t give a stuff what colour or ethnicity these young people are, the killing simply has to stop.

In conclusion, do I think that the Tory and Coalition governments have blood on their hands? Yes I do, and Theresa May was the worst offender. I really don’t know how her, and all the politicians and Police Chiefs who sat by and said nothing can sleep at night.

In my opinion Theresa May’s policies have been directly responsible for many young lives being lost on our streets.Last Updated on

More Smoke And Mirrors

Knife Crime.

Who is to blame?

Certainly anyone carrying or wielding a knife without a reasonable excuse or lawful authority is to blame.

Government silliness might make you think that Teachers or the NHS are to blame for failing to report crimes or suspicions to the Police. What a load of cobblers. You can agree or disagree with me, that is our right, but in my opinion it is quite clear.

There are TWO groups of people directly responsible for the stabbings and knife crime in general.

The first are the children, young people and adults that are carrying knives about our streets. Whether they be for offence or self-defence it is unlawful and must STOP. We do, however, have to agree a method of making it stop, the politicians just seem to want a series of meetings about it.

It is quite obvious from newsreel footage that many of the knives being carried for self-defence are quite capable of inflicting a lethal injury.

The other group of people directly responsible is Theresa May and all of the members of Parliament who voted in support of her ‘Reforms’. I hold Theresa May personally responsible, because she made it personal with her vitriolic attacks on Police.

The first thing she did was to appoint Tom Winsor to carry out ‘independent’ reviews of the Police Service. This resulted in a report with recommendations that so closely resembled a previous speech by David Camoron that the Reviews could not possibly have been truly independent in my opinion.

She then set about a series of cuts in the name of #Austerity that saw the Police Service reduced from 143,734 officers in March 2010 to 122,395 in September 2018. Not forgetting of course equally savage cuts to Police Staff and PCSOs. Even the unpaid Special Constabulary has shrunk.

Copyright Home Office

Cuts of this magnitude cannot possibly be carried out without consequences. In my opinion the consequences in relation to total crime are quite clear.

To my way of thinking it is quite obvious that once the cuts began to bite total crime levels rose. It was slowly reducing until about 2012/13 when it began to go back up again.

The second unforgivable act by Theresa May personally was her insistence that Stop and Search is in some way wicked and must be reduced. In a speech to the Federation in 2014 she said

And I am determined that the use of stop and search must come down, become more targeted and lead to more arrests.

Well it did come down. What happened to Knife Crime?

Copyright Alan Wright Copyright Alan Wright

As Stop and Search came down then both Knife-related homicides and Knife Crime in general went up. 2014 she made her speech to the Federation demanding a reduction in Stop and Search. 2014 the number of Stop/Searches began reducing drastically. 2014 Knife Crime started to go back up again.

I know Gavin doesn’t necessarily agree with me (I haven’t changed my mind Gavin) but looking at the two charts above I am compelled to believe that there is a link between the two ‘curves’. I have yet to see a set of data that suggests putting more officers on the streets or increasing Stop and Search causes the crime rate to increase.

It is an absolute requirement of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act that officers have ‘grounds’ for conducting a search under s1 of the Act. s60 Stops are very different and can currently be authorised by an officer of Superintendent rank or above. No innocent person should fear being stopped by Police. It should be carried out courteously, with dignity and the officer should have a valid reason for carrying it out. You are always entitled to receive a written copy of the official record of that Stop/Search. In my experience people who object to being stopped and searched either have something to hide or are being whipped up by one or more of the professional agitators who pop their heads up every so often.

I have heard it stated by people who really should know better that the Met has a 20% ‘hit rate’ for Stops and Searches, i.e. a Target to be achieved. To my mind this is what they ‘hope’ to achieve, to make it a hard ‘Target’ would be both unethical and unlawful, but people still claim that is the case, but I don’t actually believe it.

One ‘Target’ we should be aiming for is 100%. We should aspire to remove 100% of those illegal weapons off of our streets. Every life that has been lost (vis a vis knife crime) and every injury inflicted has been caused by a knife unlawfully carried through the streets. More Police Officers on our streets making more use of Stop and Search has the ability to detect those knives, arrest the person(s) in possession of them, possibly act as a deterrent,  and simply save lives. Compared to a life lost is it really a huge inconvenience to be erroneously Stopped and Searched? Provided that the grounds exist (or a s60 Order) of course.

The same applies to firearms although I do accept that there are other factors at play there.

To implicate the teaching profession or the NHS as somehow being at fault is totally unbelievable and inappropriate. Add into the mix cuts in Youth Services, Local Authority budgets, Teaching and Probation and it must be very close to a ‘Perfect Storm’.

There is one primary person at fault here, the person who said this:-

Any attempt to divert the blame to anybody else is just more Smoke and Mirrors, but we’ve come to expect that from her.

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Your Country Needs You (Like Never Before)

There surely cannot be a person over the age of 14 or so who is still unaware of the seemingly uncontrollable epidemic of stabbings and Knife Crime sweeping the country. Not one person surely? In London alone there is a knife-related murder or serious stabbing almost every day. Only recently a young teenage kid was literally disembowelled on the streets of our capital.

Politicians of all hues and senior Police Officers pronounce that this is completely unacceptable (it is) but what are they actually DOING about it?

Mainly nothing.  A lot of hot air gets spouted, think tanks go into overdrive trying to come up with the next big ‘thing’, senior Police Officers will have meetings and pronounce that ‘extra’ officers are being thrown at the problem, the government will assure us that new ‘technology’ is on the way.  The main problem is that there are NO extra extra officers, there are, in fact,  21,000 fewer officers.

Meetings are a very small part of the solution, but to come up with the promise of ‘extra’ officers is an insult to both Police and Public alike.  Every one of these ‘extra’ officers is either working what should have been a Leave Day or they have been abstracted from other duties, thereby creating a shortage somewehere else.

Almost every serving or former Police Officer that I know, together with a significant number of Members of the Public have a damn good idea what is causing the problem and how to begin addressing it.

Every knife used in an attack on the streets has been carried through the streets by somebody.  Whilst it is being carried it is vulnerable to being found by Police, and the ‘carrier’ arrested, but NOT if the Police Officers have one arm tied behind their backs.

Currently there is no ‘fear’ on the streets.  The government, in the shape of Camoron and Cruella, have savagely decreased the number of Police Officers, including the Front Line that they claim to protect.  Cruella herself issued an instruction to Police to drastically reduce the number of Stop Search carried out.  Since her edict both crime in general, and stabbings in particular have increased, despite what the Whitehall Mandarins might tell us.  Home Office figures show it thus

Assaults in England and Wales

Not a pretty sight.

My proposal to turn the tide would be to bring back Stop and Search.  Lawfully, Ethically, Respectfully, but Determindly.

Once the grounds for the Stop/Search have been established (and they MUST be) it should be conducted positively and efficiently, and properly recorded.

“People will get Stop/Searched who are totally innocent” I hear the cry.  Yes they will, that is almost inevitable, but the damage can be minimised by the manner in which it is conducted.  Officers could stop me ten times a day if it prevented one more youth getting butchered.  I have nothing to hide, nor do most other folk.   Yes, it is inconvenient, and can often delay us, but which is worse?  Getting a tad miffed about being stopped and searched by a polite Police Officer who explains why you are being Stopped and Searched, or one more teenager getting disembowled within sight of home?

Last year’s IPSOS/MORI poll showed that ost of the population still have a reasonable amount of trust in the Police.  FAR, far more than politicians of any kind.

In view of which Theresa May, why not start the process of rebuilding the Police?  Allow people to feel safe on the streets once more.  Instil fear of being caught and meaningful consequences into the hearts of those carrying knives, or weapons of any kind.

How can you help?  How does your country need you?

You can help today by simply writing a letter or email to your local MP, or the Home Secretary, or the Prime Minister or your local Police and Crime Commissioner voicing your support for some Positive Action and the reinstatement of the Police Force.  Surely no politician can ignore a mailbox overflowing with letters.  Police and Crime Commissoners are up for re-election soon, and who knows when the next General Election will be, but maybe not too far away.  They will all be looking for YOUR votes.

From an operational point of view a short, sharp period of Shock and Awe will remind a certain faction that they do not rule the streets, although they currently think that they do, and they are getting away with it.Last Updated on

Stop and Search – Bored With It Now

The arguments re Stop and Search continue to rumble on, stoked by the opinions of a few ‘Adademics’ most recently.

People continue to be stabbed and killed on the streets of our country, some VERY young children among them, but oh no we mustn’t conduct Stop and Search on these poor young things, it’s not right.  If they are old enough to carry weapons and get involved in knife fights, stabbings, robberies etc etc then they are old enough to be stopped and searched.

According to Theresa May when she was Home Secretary we should be drastically cutting back on Stop/Search Full Stop, or she will bring in legislation to make us stop doing was the threat I believe.

“I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make those things happen,”

She failed in her determination to introduce the relevant legislation due to, mainly, pressure from David Camoron. However she did succeed in obtaining a voluntary agreement;

Forces participating in the scheme must:

  • Record the outcome of stops in more detail to show the link – or lack of a link – between the object of the search and its outcome, allowing an assessment of how well forces interpret the “reasonable grounds for suspicion” they are supposed to have. They must also record a broader range of outcomes, such as penalty notices and cautions, so it can be understood how successful each stop and search is.
  • Allow members of the public to apply to accompany officers on patrol to help improve the community’s understanding of the police.
  • Introduce a stop and search complaints “community trigger” so forces must explain to the public how powers are used if they receive a large volume of complaints.
  • The Home Secretary said forces must make clear that they will respect law established in the recent Roberts case by only using the Section 60 “no suspicion” stop and search power when it is “necessary to prevent incidents involving serious violence” rather than just “expedient” to do so. For those participating in the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, use of Section 60 must also be authorised by a chief officer who must reasonably believe that violence “will” take place rather than “may” take place, as it stands now. Forces must also limit its application to 15 hours and communicate with communities before and after, so residents can be kept informed of the purpose and success of the operation.

Back in the real world, crime in general and violent crime in particular, has rocketed since Theresa May’s interference in 2014.

For the ‘Academics’ amongst you the problems look like this

Stop/Search vs Crime England and Wales

Stop and Search in England and Wales

In the last 24 hours there has been much use of the word ‘Toxic‘ on Social Media, much of it aimed at former Police Officers who oppose the policies being introduced, unchecked it would appear, by the College of Policing, National Police Chiefs Council and Home Office.

Well, let me tell you, I think the attitude of some very senior Police Officers, aided and abetted by ‘Academics’ is ‘Toxic’.  The figures speak for themselves. In my very humble opinion, and what do I know about it, we should not be having any discussion about reducing Stop and Search at all.  We should, however, be having a very serious discussion about ensuring that our Police Officers are properly trained (not by e-learning) on HOW to lawfully conduct a Stop/Search procedure, what is required, grounds, properly recording the procedure and its outcome etc.

We can not justify cutting back on Stop and Search in the light of rising crime, weapons, killings etc on the streets of our country. EVERY ONE of those weapons is carried through the streets at some point by a real living person.  The responsibility of the Police is to intercept those weapons and prevent the ensuing crimes.

How can they do that whilst being told to cut back on the use of Stop/Search?  Senior Police Officers and ‘Academics’ are not doing anybody any favours highlighting the number of Stop/Searches carried out, they should merely concentrate on the quality of those Stop/Searches and ensure absolutely that they are carried out within the law.

Any criticism of properly conducted Stop/Searches is TOXIC nothing less.  Fnally, how many stabbings, robberies etc have been prevented by ‘Academics’?  Is there a database somewhere for those important figures?

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Drink/Drive vs Stop/Search

A few days ago I was having a chat with a couple of other crusties, the current, persistent, furore over Stop and Search was high on our agenda.

In my opinion driving a car or riding a motor bike and getting breath-tested goes with the ‘fun’ of driving and riding.  If you haven’t had a drink or just the one, it’s a bit of an inconvenience but it normally ends there.  If you’ve had a drink and you fail the roadside test the scenario is very different, but the risk to other road users is neutralised.

Stop/Search is very similar in my view.  Walking down the road innocently and you happen to pass through a high-crime area, or an area renowned for recent stabbings.  It is possible that you will get stopped and searched.  Possible not probable.  The officers have to have sound reasons (grounds) for Stopping and Searching somebody.  There can and will be occasions when ‘grounds’ exist in relation to a perfectly innocent individual e.g. wearing clothing of a certain colour, a particular style of hat, carrying a certain type of bag etc etc.  The officer(s) may stop and search you, hopefully in a civil and polite manner and explain WHY they have taken this action.  After only 5 minutes or so (hopefully) you are told that you are free to go and off you trot, hopefully none the worse for the experience.

Not very different to being stopped, given a breath test (negative) and off you go again.

In relation to Stop/Search there is a whole load of fuss being made by certain sections of the Community about people being stopped unnecessarily.  It is unfortunate that is for sure, but as long as the officers have acted courteously and in accordance with the law what is the harm?  Nobody ever died from being Stopped, Searched and nothing found.  People have certainly died at the hands of weapons e.g. huge Zombie Knives carried through the streets, the government in the form of Thersa May has issued an edict to reduce Stop and Search so many of those murderous weapons go undetected.

Everybody will form their own opinion about Stop and Search and a negative result i.e. nothing found.  It has happened to me and I was treated courteously, nothing was found and I was cheeriy allowed on my way.  I got it, but the opposition to it is very vocal.  With Intelligence-led, targeted Stop and Search the Metropolitan Police anticipates that a positive outcome i.e. something found, will occur in about 20% of all instances.

Where is the opposition to breath tests?  Statistics for breath tests that do not necessarily arise out of an accident are not easy to come by, but I did find some from a few years ago.

For the years 2009 and 2010 there was a total of 1,747,295 breath tests administered in England and Wales.   A total of 177,164 were either Positive of Refused.  11%  This means that 89% were negative.  Where is the outrage at 89% of drivers passing their breath tests and the Action Groups demanding that Breath Tests are drastically reduced.  How would Theresa May have looked back in 2014 if she had publicly demanded a drastic reductiuon in breath tests given by the Police of England and Wales.

Maybe certain factions of Society should take a hard look at their stance.  Is Stop and Search REALLY that different to Drink/Drive.  Not conducting a Stop/Search because you have been told not to can end in a fatality just as easily as not sdministering a breath test and a drunk driver goes on to have a fatal accident.  One is socially acceptable and the other isn’t.  WHY?Last Updated on

Knife Crime, Stop/Search – Some Facts, Some Figures And Some Fictions, Plus Anything Else I Can Think Of

Knife Crime is very much current and on the rise, both in the capital, London, and across the country generally.  For the purposes of this post I shall be relying on figures that relate to London, but I have no doubt that they will be mirrored elsewhere, just with smaller numbers.  In this context Knife Crime = Any Crime enabled by use of a Knife, not just assaults and homicides etc.

Ethnicity in this context is Self Defined Ethnicity.

In 2012 there were 12,454 recorded victims of Knife Crime in London, 2,489 (20%) were female and 9,960 (80%) were male.  1,566 (12.6%) were Asian, 1,208 (9.7%) were Black (any origin), 185 (1.5%) were Mixed Race, 86 (0.01%) were Chinese, 3,123 (25.1%) were White, 181 (1.5%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group,  and 6,105 (49%) were Unrecorded (including Refused)  for whatever reason.

Fast Forward to 2016 and we see a slight reduction in the total number off victims of Knife Crime

In 2016 there were a total of 11,707 recorded victims of Knife Crime in London, 2,360 (20.2%) were female and 9342 (79.8%) were male.  So not really very much has changed here. 986 (8.4%) were Asian, 968 (8.3%) were Black (any origin), 125 (1.1%) were Mixed Race, 36 (0.3%) were Chinese, 2,110 (18%) were White, 121 (1%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and 7,361 (63%) were Unrecorded/Refused for whatever reason.  A HUGE rise in Unrecorded/Refused.  Is this indicative of a lack of supervision, insufficient time to fill in all the boxes, or just sloppy crime recording generally?  Small reductions in the number of Asian, Black and White victimes but this is absolutely meaningless due to the ridiculously high Unrecorded/Refused figure.  Not very much you can do with any of these figures except insert the words ‘At Least’ in front of them.

 

This brings us to the persons carrying out these offences, which in this instance are the people ‘Arrested’, or Persons Proceeded Against as the Met quaintly calls them.

In 2012 a Grand Total of 3,067 people were ‘Proceeded Against’, 302 (9.9%) of them were Female and 2,765 (90.1%) were Male.  319 (0.1%) were Asian, 1,288 (42%) were Black (any origin), 200 (6.5%) were Mixed Race, 10 (0.3%) were Chinese, 1,070 (34.9%) were White, 86 (2.8%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and 94 (3.1%) were Unrecorded/Refused.

 

Fast Forward to 2016 once more, what, if anything has changed here?

In 2016 a Grand Total of 2,546 people were Proceeded Against for Knife Crime.  341 (13.4%) were Female and 2,205 (86.6%) were Male.  288 (11.3%) were Asian, 1,040 (40.1%) were Black (any origin), 174 (6.8%) were of Mixed Race, 7 (0.3%) were Chinese, 850 (33.4%) were White, 97 (3.8%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group, and 90 were Unrecorded/Refused

 

So, what does Stop and Search look like?

In Calendar Year 2012, in London, there were 390,231 recorded Stop and Searches. Of the Persons stopped 60,696 (15.5%) were Asian, 106,303 (27.2%) were Black (any origin), 16,547 (4.2%) were Mixed Race, 1,051 (0.3%) were Chinese, 175,036 (44.9%) were White, 8,266 (2.1%) were from Any Other Ethnic Group and the remainder being Not Recorded or Refused.

 

 

 

In 2016 the situation was this; there were a total of 135,968 of which 15,940 were Asian, 43,599 were Black (any origin), 5,889 were of Mixed Race, 49,322 were White, 272 were Chinese,  3,182 were Any Other Ethnic Group.  An incredible 17,764 were Unrecorded/Refused.

So, what does all of this show?  It shows that you can demonstrate almost anything depending upon how you present the statistics.  Almost every set of data above is rendered unreliable by the incredible number of Unrecorded or Refused entries.  However, merely looking at the entries where ethnicity was self-defined, it would appear that white people were the major victims of Knife Crime. Black people formed the majority of the Persons Proceeded against.  In both years White people formed the majority of persons Stopped and Searched.  Right?  Got that?  If only life were that simple.

The Academics (thankfully I’m a mere faux-Academic) would have you believe that Black people form the majority of people stopped because they are being stopped disproportionately.  This is how it works.

For the Rolling Year in London, this is how Stop/Searches look

Black people have crept slightly ahead of White people in the Rolling Year (to today’s date), but nothing to be alarmed about.  Not until the Academics get hold of it and tell us that on the basis of these figures Black people are SEVEN times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.  How does that work then?  It works by measuring the totals against the percentages of the ethnic population of London.  using exactly the same figures the graph now looks like this

It makes it appear that MANY more Black people are being stopped than White people, but that is merely one interpretation of the same data.  Certainly not the much-vaunted SEVEN times that we keep getting fed. Personally I prefer to deal in simple numbers as the true picture is immediately obvious, the Academics love to deal in percentages because they can ‘prove’ that something has improved that has, in reality, got much worse, such as the Stop to Arrest ‘hit’ rate.  That is much worse, but the percentages would tend to suggest that it is much better.  A higher percentage of a smaller number frequently produces a much smaller result.

To demonstate the folly of this within the context of Stop and Search, one of our Northern Constabularies was criticised for stopping too many Black people.  The numbers being stopped were disproportionate to the ethnic makeup of the County.  Well I have to say this was true, Black people made up approx 0.3% of the County, but approx 0.7% of the people stopped were Black.  Twice as many as you should expect perhaps.

Strip away all the smoke and mirrors and reveal the reality

In  2015/16 Out of 3,879 s1 Stop Searches 3,381 were White, 22 black, 43 Asian, 6 Chinese, 12 Mixed Race, 110 unknown and 305 were Vehicle Only.

In 2016/17 Out of 1,962 s1 Stop Searches 1,705 were white, 14 were Black, 21 were Asian, No Chinese lol, 9 were Mixed Race, 86 Unknown and 127 were Vehicle Only

One Black person stopped by the entire Force every 2-3 weeks.  If that is excessive I’ll go back to knitting.Last Updated on

Does The Home Secretary, Sorry, Prime Minister, Have Blood On Her Hands?

The answer to this, I think, very much depends on your opinion of Stop and Search. It is controversial, undoubtedly, but is it legitimate? Is it effective? Is it necessary?

Once upon a time, in 2014, Theresa May, as Home Secretary, instructed the Police Service of England and Wales to reduce their use of Stop and Search stating that it was disproportionate towards certain sectors of the community.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

  • Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied. It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police.

  • The proposals I have outlined today amount to a comprehensive package of reform. I believe that they should contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, better and more intelligence-led stop and search and improved stop-to-arrest ratios.

  • But I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make these things happen.

No such instruction was issued to Police Scotland, or Police Service of Northern Ireland.

As early as 2013 Mrs May had decided upon a reform of Stop and Search, and most definitely let everybody know her intentions.

She had been ‘informed’ that young black men were seven times more likely to be ‘targeted’ than whites.

Mrs May launched a consultation on her proposals in July 2013 and told MPs she wanted to make sure stop-and-search was used fairly and only when it is needed.

In answer to a couple of points in the last paragraph in the extract above, have the numbers come down?

Have they ever.

The above pretty chart is based on figures obtained by me from the 43 Forces in England and Wales, and may not align with figures quoted by our beloved media.

So, the first answer is an unambiguous YES.

Has the stops-to-arrest ratio improved?

The chart below represents the stops-to-arrest ratio for a rolling 12 month period in London in about 2016

At the beginning of his graph 8.3% of 533,427 people stopped were getting arrested.  This means that 44,274 people stopped were getting arrested.  Fast Forward to 19% of 160,694 people arrested as a result of “better”, “more intelligence led” application of Stop and Search.  It seems like we’re doing SOOOOOOO much better.

In a 12 month period the stops-to-arrest rate has increased from 8.3% to an impressive 19%, by doing fewer Stop/Searches more effectively.

Really?

In reality those figures show that the Met arrested only 30,532 people, almost 33% FEWER. The total number of people paying a visit to Custody Suites across London as a direct result of being Stopped and Searched was about one third less.

In the meantime, Knife Crime in London soared. Once again, don’t be bamboozled by some of the huge figures quoted by our media, they include Knife-Enabled Crime, a Robbery for example where a knife was produced but not used to injure anybody. I am referring to Deaths and Non-Fatal stabbings.

Sadly I don’t have Knife Crime data dating back to 2012 as this is not the post I anticipated writing and events have overtaken me.

 

What can’t speak can’t lie.  Force figures provided under FOIA and replicated without ‘massage’.  As Stop and Search declined over the three years, Knife Crime rose.

In London the pretty chart looks like this

The increase in Knife Crime is very much of the same order as nationally, but the reduction in Stop and Search has been much steeper.

As a faux-academic I am not qualified to proclaim that there is a relationship between decreased Stop and Search and increased Knife Crime, although a) It looks like there might be and b) Every weapon is carried through the streets at some point and the deterrent effect diminishes with reduced Stop and Search.

If you are a regular reader you will know that I strongly support the lawful use of Stop and Search i.e.  complying with the requirements of s1 of PACE and not conducting random searches for the hell of it.  Nothing here changes my view on that, but in my opinion it should be considered as a perfectly valid tactic if used properly againt the surge in Knife Crime.

Ordinarily that would have been the end of it.  Here’s the problem, this is what I think of it, you might like to try this……the end.

Oh no, nothing so simple this time.  Since writing my previous articles on Knife Crime and/or Stop and Search I have found this article in The Spectator.

Written by Alasdair Palmer, a former speech writer at the Home Office, one assumes that he writes with a degree of authority.

He was allegedly informed by one of Theresa May’s Special Advisers that stop and search was  a policy which consistently alienates members of the black community. He was told, allegedly,  that it would help the Home Secretary’s standing with Afro-Caribbeans if she made a statement that was critical of the police’s use of stop and search.

Her statement would include the fact that the Police’s use of Stop and Search was racist and that one was 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched if one was from an ethnic background.  The reality was that the Home Office had conducted research in the reent past and that the statistics produced did not actually support this proposal.

If you want to know if the police are stopping and searching members of particular ethnic groups in a biased and possibly racist way, then what you need to know is who is available to be stopped and searched on the streets at the times that the police are stopping and searching people.……….

The team of Home Office researchers felt it was important to know the ethnic composition of the population available to be stopped and searched in the places and at the times the police were implementing that tactic. So they went out and counted it: they identified the percentage of the street population made up by each ethnic group. They then compared that with the percentage of stop and searches that were made up by each ethnic group. They discovered that, when you looked at who was available to be stopped and searched when the police were actually stopping and searching on the streets, the ethnic bias disappeared.

The Home Office research actually indicated to them that the Police did NOT seemingly target any section of the community in particular, but actually conducted their Stops and Searches in areas of high crime.

Many years later it appears as though that piece of research has been ‘buried’.  Nobody at the Home Office knows about it or can find any trace of it.

Much has been made of Disclosure recently, but it seems that at least one piece of work was totally ignored when Thersa May made her politically inspired diktat on Stop and Search.  SOMEBODY within the Home Office knew the truth (allegedly).  Was it her SPAD?  Did she herself know and choose to ignore this inconvenient piece of research?

My last quote for The Spectator (I hope they don’t mind, all acknowledgemnts given) is this

The special adviser re-wrote the statement in the way he wanted it, with the misleading statistic, and she gave the statement to parliament as he had written it on 2 July 2013. And the rest is history.

At the time in question I am informed that she only had two SPADs, one was female, the other was (allegedly) Nick Timothy.  I presume the female was Fiona Hill.

All of this leaves me with one question really. Does Theresa May have the blood of untold youths on her hands, or is she totally innocent of all blame?Last Updated on

Knife Crime – A Faux-Academic’s View

I confess, I have never been an ‘academic’, I left school with two A Levels and a Jamboree Bag. In truth, I’m never likely to be an academic either. I have had three jobs since leaving school, and every one of them involved being a practitioner of one kind or another. I’m not intimidated by ‘maffs’ and ‘riffmatic’ though. A set of numbers is just another challenge.

As most of you will know I have a ‘thing’ about Knife Crime and somehow seem to be at odds with some of the more established academics about Knife Crime and its prevention.

So, I wrote to all 43 Forces in an attempt to get a true picture of the scale of the problem across England and Wales. Then I thought, I can draw some pretty graphs and charts too. I won’t feel so left out.

It has to be said I got a colourful variety of responses, some Forces even went overboard and gave me far more data than I had requested. Some gave their results in Calendar Years, and some in Financial years, but at least they gave me something I could work with. One Force that shall remain nameless suggested that I contact the Coroner as they couldn’t tell me how many persons had been killed by knife or bladed object. A small number haven’t yet replied, so where you see value of zero on a graph, they are almost certainly one of those.  In the case of the Met I am still waiting for the figures for the second half of 2017.

With 5 Forces still to provide me with ANYTHING the total number of people killed by knives or other pointed objects in England and Wales was

2015 – 158

2016 – 177

2017 – 173

The total number of people injured by Knives etc (e.g. non-fatal stabbings etc) was

2015 – 9272

2016 – 9922

2017 – 8719

I expect all of these figures to rise, especially the 2017 totals, once I finally get the outstanding data.

Where did all these attacks happen?  Are there any unexpected hotspots?

As a faux-academic I think it’s quite clear that there are only maybe half a dozen or so Forces that have a real problem with Deaths and Injuries by knife etc. However any death is one too many, whoever the victim is, whatever his/her background is and whichever Force it is.  The killing simply has to stop.

One point that I feel I need to expand upon, I have heard figures quoted that are massively bigger than those above.  In the main they refer to knife-enabled crime such as robbery, aggravated burglary, any offence where a knife is produced but not used to cause injury.  We must definitely not forget those crimes but here I am concentrating on deaths and injuries.

What can we do about it?  I have written about Knife Crime many times before, and unless anyone comes up with another, better, suggestion, I still see the two ways forward as a) Education and b) Stop and Search, preferbaly in conjunction with each other.  I have read ‘proper’ academics papers that suggest that Stop and Search has no effect on Knife Crime.  I don’t have anywhere near enough pieces of paper to argue with that effectively, but I simply don’t agree.  Any weapon used in the commission of an offence is carried through the streets at some point.  During that time it, and its carrier, are always vulnerable to a Stop and Search if sufficient grounds exist.  I have always maintained that to retain its credibility Stop and Search should be used, but used lawfully and ethically.  I have previously written about the reduction of Stop and Search instigated by Theresa May, and the main post can be found here.

Finally, I have heard it said that ethnic minorities are unfairly targeted by Stop and Search.  I have always maintained that if you test the ‘available population’ that is no longer true.  Last night I happened upon this post in The Spectator which not only appears to support my view, but states that government knew this but had it spun differently.Last Updated on

Stop & Search – A (Not An) Academic’s Opinion

I am not an academic, never been one and hardly likely to become one now. I have, however, considerable experience in Research and Analysis. In the past few days I have been involved in a, sometimes, acrimonious exchange on Twitter with an ex Think Tank academic, on the thorny subject of Stop and Search.

It all started off when I received this Tweet

and then

Rightly or wrongly I just had to challenge them

Gavin then confirmed his assertions with

This exchange continued backwards and forwards over 2 or 3 days, with neither of us conceding that the other might be right. Gavin came up with an extract from some unidentified document that he had found.

Cheekily followed up with

A further refusal to concede that “we expect…..” may just have a different meaning. The mood of this ‘instruction’ is possibly revealed here

In the midst of it all I asked Gavin if he had ever spent a week with a Front Line Response Team, his response was

The argument continued backwards and forwards for a couple of days, I won’t bore you you with the actual tweets they are on our timelines if you want them. At some point it included “numbers versus percentages”. Academics love things in percentages, I prefer numbers. A good example of this is Stop and Search in the Met. The number of people stopped and searched has dropped off a cliff face. The percentage of those arrested has increased dramatically. Some Academics claim that as a success. The reality is that a larger percentage of a much smaller number means that about 15,000 fewer people are being arrested in the Met as a result of Stop and Search. Not exactly a huge success.

In an attempt to get a more balanced opinion than my own I posed the subject of the 20% Arrest Rate to 2 Facebook Groups for the Metropolitan Police. Most of the replies I received denied that there was such a policy, a small number remembered the policy but claimed that it was ignored as unethical, some claimed that it was misinterpreted and only ever implemented by a small number of Inspectors at Appraisal time. There was one response however that was quite illuminating and I brought it to Gavin’s attention (anonymised obviously)

Gavin’s response?

My final words

I have nothing against Gavin as a person, I have never met him, but in this particular exchange he seems to have formed an opinion regarding Stop and Search in the Met and was particularly unreceptive to any differing view. This is not intended as an anti-Gavin post, just expressing a different interpretation of the same document.

However, not all Academics are so insistent that Stop/Search is bad. I have always taken the view that Stop and Search conducted lawfully is a valuable tool and legitimate tactic in the war against Street Crime. Police Officers are fully aware of the requirements for lawfully conducting a Stop/Search under s1 of PACE, and attempting to fulfil an SMT-defined quota is not one of them. I wonder if all Academics are familiar with them.

Finally, I was reminded of the work of another Academic, Dr Marian FitzGerald, basically her recommendations and conclusions can be summed up thus:

Contribution of saearches [sic] to tackling crime:

▪ Searches contribute to the detection and prevention of crime through arrests, and through the intelligence they produce.

▪ The arrest rates tend to be higher for ‘low discretion’ searches, where officers have received information from a third party.

▪ The report claimed that the power has a general impact on crime prevention, demonstrated by independent statistical analysis. However, this important finding was disputed by the independent analyst contracted to carry out the investigation.

Patterns of searches:

▪ Officers target certain individuals who they perceive to be involved in crime locally.

▪ Officers may use the power of stop and search to disrupt groups of young people.

▪ The use of the power is still perceived as a measure of productivity although searches have not been used as a Performance Indicator since 1997.

▪ Most searches were carried out on young men, around half of which did not live in the local area.

Dr FitzGerald’s research was conducted quite some time ago, and is specific to London, but that in itself does not necessarily render it invalid. The two main factors that have changed since then are;

a) Crime Levels have increased

b) Police numbers have increased since the date of the report but are steadily reducing again.

In conclusion it appears that Academics do not all agree with each other, and some are not willing to listen to opposing views to their own, even when presented with supporting ‘evidence’. However I am still perfectly happy to support Stop and Search as a valid tactic, with the strict proviso that it is conducted lawfully. With the recent explosion of knife-related assaults and murders, robberies etc, it has to be remembered that every one of those knives is carried through the streets at some point. How else do we deter this epidemic without Stop and Search? It’s a serious question, I’m open to all suggestions, I just want the killings to end.

Any item of Academia that appears on my Timeline that reduces the opportunities to prevent the killings is not best received.

ADDENDUM

Whilst I was writing this the following response popped up in one of the Facebook Groups;

Considering S.1 PACE refers to reasonable suspicion I’m surprised that the arrest ratio to “lawful stops” is not higher. How can any organization legislate a specific quota of arrests to stops? So they don’t. In fact with all of the adverse criticism over the years stop and search has been reduced to a trickle……………

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