Stop and search targets “need improving”

Stop and search procedures under public scrutiny

Stop and search procedures under public scrutiny. Pic: Flickr.

Croydon and Tower Hamlets are among a number of London boroughs who are failing to meet arrest targets set under the Met’s stop and search guidance, police data shows.

It means that across the capital hundreds of thousands of people are being unnecessarily searched by the police, with black people 11.5 times more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts.

In an effort to improve police reputation, the force aims to achieve a 20 per cent arrest rate from stop and searches.

The ‘Stop and Search Monitoring System Report’ states that 13,227 stop and searches were carried out across London in November 2015 — 18.7 per cent of which resulted in an arrest. Only 12 of London’s 32 boroughs managed to meet the target of 20 per cent. This is an improvement from 2011, when just eight per cent of stop and searches produced arrests.

In Croydon and Tower Hamlets, 13.3 percent were arrested after 301 and 652 people were stopped and searched, respectively.

In Hackney, police stopped a total of 387 people and alongside Lewisham it is one of the 12 boroughs managing to exceed the 20 per cent target arrest rate. These figures suggest that some boroughs take a more targeted approach than others.

Lambeth has the highest search and stop rate. After 1,078 people stopped, 78 per cent were released with no further action taken at the time of arrest. While Sutton has the highest arrest rate at 25 per cent, its stop and search rate is much lower with 175 people being stopped in November 2015.

Westminster has one of the highest rates of stop and search but one of the lowest arrest rates. Out of 799 stop and searches carried out in November 2015 just 13.3 per cent resulted in arrests, meaning 561 people, or 86.7 per cent, were released with no further consequences.

Among the boroughs with high stop and search rates, three also had high arrest rates: Lewisham (24.2 per cent), Brent (23.5 per cent) and Haringey (20.6 per cent).

Joanne McCartney, chair of the London Assembly’s Police and Committee said of those not hitting the 20 per cent target: “We would want to see those boroughs looked at by the Met to see how those rates can be improved. It is in the police’s interest to improve arrest rates.”

McCartney suggests that reasons for discrepancies between boroughs could be because “some boroughs have different operations for treating crime.” There is also, she says, the issue of training; in local policing, a third of officers have less than two years experience, so some officers may not be confident in carrying out stop and searches.

The detailed report forms part of Theresa May’s stop and search reform, as reported by Eastlondonlines last year, which opened up police stop and search records to public scrutiny.

A Met spokesperson told ELL: “The [Met] does not set volume targets re. stop and search, meaning it does not tell officers they must do 10 or 20 searches per day, for example.

But it aims for 20 per cent of all stop and searches to result in an arrest, and a minimum of 20 per cent of all stops and searches to target weapons. In addition, 40 per cent should target neighbourhood crimes. We have set ourselves challenging targets and strive to achieve them.”

Last year, the number of fatal stabbings rose to 15, the highest it has been in seven years. The first casualty of 2016 died after being stabbed outside Ashton Playing Fields in Woodford.

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