Someone suggests that you might need Refresher Training for Stop and Search.
Stop and Search SHOULD be taught in Basic Training and I’d be absolutely amazed if it isn’t, it’s a Bread and Butter tool of Policing, but it does need to be understood and not abused. It is within the abilities of EVERY Police Recruit to understand what is required before conducting a Stop and Search, plus what needs to be done afterwards to comply with PACE and the Codes of Practice.
So you’re probably not surprised to hear that I was a tad pissed off to find this newspaper headline
Stop-and-search: Police training will challenge ‘unconscious bias’ of officers to cut down on unlawful use of tactic
Hundreds of police officers around the country are to have their prejudices challenged by a training programme that aims to reduce discrimination among those using stop-and-search powers
The new approach has been developed by the College of Policing and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), after the Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned a review of the way the police are trained – with “unconscious bias” to be monitored as part of new professional standards.
If I’ve got this right, this new piece of work is going to be led by Nick Glynn from the College of Policing.
Nick Glynn, stop-and-search lead at the College of Policing, said: “This training will explore the impact of stop and search, examine the effect of unconscious bias and ensure officers work within the rules when stopping members of the public.”
OK Nick, I’ll start off with the unpopular line “Who is to say that the bias is unconscious?” The officer may have perfectly valid reasons to conduct the search that they have just made are or just about to make. There maybe nothing unconscious in their bias at all but an Intelligence Led or Evidence Led approach has been adopted quite reasonably (and lawfully).
It seems to me that a HUGE assumption has been made that Stop/Searches are conducted with the benefit of ‘unconscious bias’. Who has decreed this? Who is it, Nick, that has conducted a scientific analysis of Stop/Searches and found that many of them were carried out as the result of ‘unconscious bias’? Could you please provide me a link to this important piece of work so that I can study it?
If I was still serving I would be highly insulted to be told that I was going on Refresher Training for Stop/Search, even if I HAD been selected at Random.
If there is a genuine need for ongoing training in Stop/Search then I suggest that there are deeper underlying problems, an experienced officer should be able to initiate a Stop/Search (or not) in their sleep. If a high number are acting unlawfully then surely this is a Disciplinary as well as a Training Issue. Today’s generation of Police Officers are, in my submission, highly professional, and this should be well within their abilities.
The ongoing effect of this exercise, I suspect, will be that many officers will cease, or drastically reduce, their Stop/Searches, not because they are invalid or unlawful, but because the officers will be reluctant to be thought of as ‘unconsciously biased’, a term that smacks of ‘Institutional Racism’. That is probably what the Home Secretary is not-so-secretly hoping for. What IS unlawful or unethical is using Stop/Search and Hit Rates as a Performance Indicator
I am SO glad that I have retired, it is no mystery to me why serving officers would be reluctant to recommend Policing to their families and friends any more, and exercises like this do not help.