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Police use of stop and search powers scrutinised

MONITOR: Academics will study Leicestershire’s police’s use of stop and search

UNIVERSITY ACADEMICS have been asked by Leicestershire Police to study its officers’ use of stop and search powers.

The force was recently praised by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) for steps it has already taken which have seen stop searches halved since January 2011, and for commissioning a team from De Montfort University to study their use and to try to explain the disproportionality of their use within different ethnic groups.

Researchers will be looking to see if factors such as the areas in which people live have any bearing on stop and search statistics.

Reader in Criminology Jean Hine, who is heading up the new study with Professor Rob Canton, said: “Police officers using stop and search powers is a national issue because of the disproportionate number of black and Asian people who are stopped and searched compared to white people.

“The Leicestershire force has been doing a lot of work with its officers, especially training.  Nearly every officer has had some new training on stop and search. Although this has reduced the figures quite radically, there is still some disproportion and the force has asked us to look into this.”

The first stage of the university team’s evaluation is to analyse the recorded stop and search data. This will be followed by interviews with officers before producing a report early in the new year.

The force recently reported the number of stop and searches by its officers had fallen by over 50 per cent since January last year. At the same time arrest rates have more than doubled. On average 13 people are stopped and searched every 24 hours across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Assistant Chief Constable Steph Morgan, who has overseen the work, said: “I am delighted with the progress that we have made into understanding our use of the stop search power.

“We are ensuring that searches are targeted in areas where our analysis and the community tell us that there are crime hot spots.

“Although disproportionality has fallen, the force has asked De Montfort University to undertake research into the area so we can better understand what factors are driving the current figures.”

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