Priti Patel lifts UK stop and search restrictions

Priti Patel lifts UK stop and search restrictions Source: Twitter @opensociety

The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel wrote to police forces on Monday, May 16, to lift the restrictions on stop and search in an effort to tackle knife and other violent crime.

Announcing the easing of conditions on the use of the tactics under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, she said: “The devastating impact of knife crime on families who have lost their loved one is unbearable.

“No one should have to endure the pain and suffering of the victims of these appalling crimes, and we have a responsibility to them to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies.”

According to the figures provided, she said the use of stop and search has increased by around 85% since 2019 and has contributed to some 50,000 weapons being taken off the streets.

A controversial policy, Section 60 powers, give officers the right to search people without reasonable grounds in an area when they believe there to be or where there is an expectation of serious violence. The powers also allows the officer to look for weapons before they can be used, or those used in a recent attack.

The move effectively undoes limitations put in place in 2014 by then-home secretary Theresa May.

Stop and search is controversial because of concerns that it disproportionately affects black and minority ethnic communities, with campaign groups previously warning that relaxing the restrictions could compound discrimination in the UK.

The changes include lowering the rank at which offices are able to authorise deployment of stop and search has been lowered from senior officer to inspector, while a superintendent can now extend the authorisation.

It also allows authorisation of the deployment if they anticipate that serious violence “may” occur rather than “will” occur, and no longer need to publicly communicate authorisations to communities in advance.

The move coincides with the launch of Operation Sceptre, described as a week of “intensive action” by police forces in England and Wales to tackle knife crime.

A recent report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) watchdog urged an overhaul of the use of stop-and-search powers to tackle the disproportionate impact the measures have on ethnic minority groups.

In the year to March 2021, black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, while Asian people were two-and-a-half times more likely.

The report included one case study of a black boy who was searched more than 60 times between the ages of 14 and 16, sometimes more than once in the same day.

The move to lift the stop and search restriction coincides with the launch of Operation Sceptre, described as a week of “intensive action” by police forces in England and Wales to tackle knife crime.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

Comments


    • John J Brown

      16 May 2022 • 11:26

      “controversial because of concerns that it disproportionately affects black and minority ethnic communities”

      Look at empirical data. Look at who is being harmed; who is being convicted of harming. At its simplest, an online search for “convicted knife London” (images).

      Something has to be done. Anything to help stop knife crime is surely a good thing.

      Reply

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