Stop and search: An open letter to Theresa May MP, Nick Herbert MP and Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe

Police Stop And Search A Man Outside The Equestrian Event… News Photo Getty Images UK 149564707 115718 276x300 Stop and search: An open letter to Theresa May MP, Nick Herbert MP and Sir Bernard Hogan Howe We are a collective of organisations that believe police stop-and-search tactics are damaging the relationship between young people and society. We are calling for the police to change their approach.

Our work with young people, and in-depth research into last summer’s riots, shows that stop-and-search was a key causal factor in the violence that swept the country.

The Metropolitan Police will soon release figures to demonstrate a reduction in the number of stop and searches conducted as well as an improvement in effectiveness. Disproportionality will also be shown to have reduced.

We acknowledge these developments but believe this is still not enough. Young people remain angry about stop-and-search – they believe that it continues to be a discriminatory and dehumanising imposition. Some feel that if they are to be treated as suspects, they may as well commit crime.

We believe that stop-and-search is the embodiment of the negative relationships young people have with the police. It is often carried out with little reason given and makes no differentiation between criminal and victim. Between you, you three have the power to change this.

We are calling on you to take steps to further reduce the use of stop-and-search with young people, to increase effectiveness of stop-and-search and to reduce disproportionality in stop and search.

Specifically we are asking for:

1)    The suspension of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (1994) which allows officers to stop and search young people without even the safeguard of reasonable suspicion.

2)    Interested parties: civil liberties groups and community organisations to scrutinise and comment on ACPO’s forth coming review of “Best Practice” in the use of Stop and Search. We are sceptical that a review of best practice is sufficient to deal with the gravity of the issues at hand, and communities must be allowed the chance to read it and deliver their verdict.

3)    The Metropolitan police to reveal the details of their forthcoming stop and search policy “STOP-IT” and allow space for consultation with communities. If stop and search is ever to be a positive force for community safety communities must support it. This will not happen if they feel it is simply imposed upon them from above.

We make this call for three good reasons:

1. Stop and search is not effective. Only 1/10 stops under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence act (1984) results in an arrest, and 0.4% of stops under Section 60 result in an arrest for a dangerous weapon. Yet we know that negative interactions with the police destroy trust and make young people more likely to resent police. For every knife Section 60 takes off the streets many more young people lose their trust in the police and turn to weapons to make them feel safer.

2. Police and community relationships are better without it. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission report Stop and Think report highlighted that when stop-and-search was reduced in Staffordshire and Cleveland crime levels also dropped and public confidence in the police increased.

3. It is discriminatory. Black people are 37 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched under Section 60 by police in England and Wales. Black and Asian people are more likely to be stopped across all forms of stop and search than white people.

In relation to this last reason based on discrimination you are required to take corrective steps if you are to comply with your obligation to have due regard to the three equality aims in Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

Young people have a right to be on the street, unchallenged, unless there is good cause to believe they are involved in crime. Please support us in asking the police service to reduce the use of stop-and-search and to improve their relationships with young people.

Sign up to the campaign for better and fairer engagement between the police and young people at

Yours faithfully,

-       Just for Kids Law

-       Mediorite

-       Young Hackney World

-       StopWatch

-       What We’ve Done

-       Fully Focused Community

-       Catalyst Gateway

-       Stop and Search Legal Project

-       Release

-       Poached Creative

-       Off Centre

-       Stop and Search UK Mobile App

-       Art Against Knives

-       Haringey Young People Empowered (HYPE) Release

-       Newham Monitoring Project

-       Netpol

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  • loftytom

    Poverty between black people?
    That makes no sense.
    Still glad to see that you admit that poverty cannot be used to explain the levels of criminality in the black population of London.

  • loftytom

    Heaven forfend madam, racism is for thickos.

  • loftytom

    Erm no, why do you ask?
    Are you looking for a soul-mate?

  • elln

    no just shoot them dead all or put into jails that situated
    far from families and friends between well organised criminals so people feel
    justice is done as it happens the last decades. as for rehabilitation? phhh that’s
    not tax payers want tax payers want to pay only for the illegal politicians
    benefits, councillors and council chiefs but not to rehabilitate anyone. shame
    reality proves it doesn’t work though we don’t want to see it.

  • elln

    Shame there are no money for youth centres,
    libraries social services, there are money only for banks to boost our selfish
    greediness. if you are born in a dysfunctional family, abused and neglected,
    hungry, not warm clothes, not heating in the house only drugs or alcohol from
    your parents and fosters can keep you going you are suspicious cause you look
    messy, dangerous and you are more likely to be stopped and searched, liaise
    with gangs, end up in jail.

  • Thud

    The best predictor of future behaviour is previous behaviour. I tell all the convicted offenders I work with that they should expect to be stopped by the Police now that they are known to them. If they get stopped a few times and there are no issues then the police will stop searching them so often. Simples.

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