Positive results for stop and search in east London

Stop and Search tactics aim to get knives off the street, but are they working?Photo: Ch@n

Stop and Search tactics aim to get knives off the street, but are they working? Photo: Ch@n

Stop and search in Tower Hamlets and Hackney appears to be working, despite claims by a leading criminologist that it has no positive impact on knife crime.

Marian FitzGerald, visiting professor of criminology at Kent Crime and Justice centre, analysed new Metropolitan Police figures and found no link between stop and search and a reduction in knife crime.

Local boroughs seem to refute her argument. Tower Hamlets saw 524 stop and search operations last September alone—the highest in the boroughs along the East London line. The rate of knife crime in the borough has fallen by more than ten per cent.

In Hackney, where there were 70 searches over the same period, knife crime went down by 14.8 per cent. Lewisham saw an 11 per cent reduction, despite only five searches.

In Croydon, however, knife crime is on the rise. The figures show a 5.8 per cent increase in crimes, despite 23 search operations in the area.

Section 60 powers under the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act mean police can search anyone, regardless of whether or not they think a person is carrying a knife.

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson for Tower Hamlets said: “The fear of being caught with a knife has resulted in this decrease. In the future, we might boost or cut the operations depending on what is happening on the streets.”

Many locals believe stop and search powers have made the area safer. Anwar Ali, who lives in Tower Hamlets, said: “The knife crimes have certainly gone down. I think people are now more scared of the police, and that has done the place good.”

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