To Stop Or Not To Stop – The PCC’s Answer

After my earlier post on Stop/Search I forwarded a copy of it to Adam Simmonds, the Northamptonshire PCC.  To be honest I didn’t expect a response, but to be fair, he engaged with me on the open medium of Twatter and offered his explanation and referred me to the relevant report on his website.

Reproduced below are his words, verbatim for fairness.

I cannot agree with much of what he said, but here is his explanation of the policy;

Nowhere in this dialogue does he explain where it is that he and the Chief Constable get the legal right to withhold this statutory power from any officer no matter how bad they are at Stop and Search.  He also had no answer to my being horrified at his assertion that one third (26%). (I know, his maths not mine) of all Stop Searches have no basis in law.  When I pointed out that Stop/Search was an officer’s Bread and Butter and it was incomprehensible to me that they couldn’t use this power properly and needed retraining, he again had no answer.

The whole basis of his policy seems to be based on this;

The OPCC’s report, which is based on interviewing over 1,000 people in Northamptonshire to understand their attitudes towards the police’s use of stop and search, reveals:

64% of people stopped and searched in Northamptonshire were aged between 13 and 24.

Of the respondents who had been stopped and searched, half (49%) thought the police officer had no justification in stopping and searching them, 41% disagreed that the officer/s treated them with respect and 39% disagreed that the officer treated them fairly.

57% of survey respondents said that they did not receive a copy of the stop and search form and they were not offered one.

68% of survey respondents said that the officer did not give them their details (name, ID number).

The above figures were based on 1,000 respondents to a survey. 1,000. Out of a TOTAL population of approx 700,000, less than a quarter of a percent of the population responded.  Statistically valid?  Possibly not.

The one thing that did warm my soul was reading the report on his website and discovering that no less s personage than Duwayne Brooks will be conducting a review of Stop and Search for Mr Simmonds.

In addition to publishing the findings of his report into stop search and the police response to that report with their dramatic changes, Mr Simmonds is also today launching a further review into stop and search to ensure that practise matches up to policy; that proposed changes are implemented and an examination of public confidence and awareness in this crucial police power.

Duwayne Brooks, a friend of Stephen Lawrence, who was with him on the night of his murder, will be carrying out the review for the PCC.

Some time later he reappeared on my Timeline, in response to a suggestion that Body Worn Video might be useful;

But didn’t seem to have a reply to this

So I guess the jury is still out, but by no means a convincing performance from the PCC in question, and no explanation where the authority comes from to suspend an officer’s rights.

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8 Comments

  1. Gordon Williamson

    Alan I’m not convinced by his reply and it has no basis in law that he has demonstrated so far. Many resent being stopped especially if the stop is justified. As for officers withholding their ID is it not clearly displayed (shoulder number) I remember when I joined the job that at first some of the stop did not produce results. After about 6 months to a year nearly all my stops produced results. It does not prove my early stops were not legal but it does show that with use your stop & search skills increase. Stop and search is an essential power (not a tool like a radio or pepper spray) and should not be used to gain political popularity. Have our political leaders and politicised Chief Officers become so shallow! If an officer is misusing his powers it is a supervision issue or perhaps due to cuts there are not enough supervisors or they are to busy to enforce discipline and training effectively. (It is of note that the best Police Training College in the UK has been sold off to developers and so training standards are thus deminished) My Duty Officer would “walk” beats with all his probationers as would the Section Sgt they could observe 1st hand and correct and advise accordingly! I wonder if our current Sgts & Inspectors have the time! If there is indeed such a problem with stop and search (which I doubt) the answer would be in supervision and not in unlawfully removing an essential police power. It is a fact that by the very nature of policing you will be unpopular with certain elements of society that you will come into contact with. If you don’t you are not doing your job. The Police will gain greater support and popularity by being out in sufficient numbers to do their job effectively. They lose support and popularity when they are not seen and are no longer able to do their job effectively. It seems the latter is the intention of some in their efforts to discredit the finest policing model in the world. Go anywhere in the world and ask they would gladly have what the UK Govt is dismantling! Sorry to go on a bit.

    • Good morning Gordon, having attempted to read the whole 48 pages of his report it seems that most of his gripes are focused on person stopped not being offered a copy of the stop slip or told the officers’ names etc. he does not challenge the grounds and claim that those stopped should not have been.

      He seems quite proud of the fact that Stop/Search has reduced by 50% in the last year, a figure I would find alarming.

      The whole report just smacks of bandwagon and appeasement rather than addressing a real policing problem, and he clearly has a poor opinion of his officers’ professionalism.

  2. Gordon Williamson

    Alan from what you say I would also be alarmed a 50% reduction in stops on top of a reduction in police manpower hardly seems like an effective way to reduce or prevent crime and promote a feelings of well being in law abiding members of the public. At best it is cheap political practice’s or at worst a deliberate effort to reduce the effectiveness of the Police!

  3. Has the alleged Home Office figure of 26% of all stop and search having no basis in law actually been verified? We all know of the Home Secretary’s penchant for selective statistics.

    • As far as I know that is a HMIC stat and Mr Winsor’s (sorry, Sir Tom’s) record on research and statistics isn’t the best. I’ll have a look and see if I can reference it

  4. If the 26% is based on what the persons searched said then as far as I’m
    concerned they can f off. How many scrotes like being searched. If it is based on video from BWC then that is very different and retraining is needed. I do know that form filling by some officers is not great so there may be an issue finding grounds on the form if the report does not show obvious grounds. Again retraining needed about filling forms. However l know when l was on the beat that the forms we had to use were very small and there was not much room for a decent report. I do not believe officers are Willy nilly abusing there powers.

    • Neither do I, and I agree the forms we had in the Met were ridiculously small and almost impossible to write out a neat and legible one on the street

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