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New stop and search rules will not change police attitudes

CONTROVERSIAL: Stop and Search

HAVING POLICE forces sign government’s new stop and search code of conduct will not change the attitudes of some police officers, a veteran campaigner has said.

Reacting to the news that all 43 forces in England and Wales have agreed to sign up to code of conduct, Ken Hinds, part of London borough Haringey's stop and search monitoring group, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the new code would not be enough to change attitudes in some areas.

“After 40 years of abuse of stop and search, we now refer to it as stop and scarred in our community. It has alienated whole swathes," said Hinds, who said he has been stopped 125 times in the last 30 years. The police have not found anything illegal, he said.

In 2009, Hinds also received a £22,000 payout from The British Transport Police. The payout related to a May 2004 incident when Hinds was handcuffed and detained for four hours by officers who were angry that he decided to remain and watch a young person being stopped and search.

The new government code of conduct advises police forces on how they should properly use stop and search powers when dealing with members of the public.

The new codes were introduced after Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary found that 27 percent of stop and searches did not satisfy the requirement that there be "reasonable grounds for suspicion", the BBC reported.

It said this meant the research was suggesting that more than 250,000 searches conducted last year could have been illegal.

Black communities and campaigners have long criticised the use of stop and search, stating that it has been often misused by officers. Research shows that black people were six times as likely to be stopped overall - but this was as high as 29 times in some areas.

Among the measures outlined in the new code are:
• Police will now record every outcome resulting from stop and search.
• They will record a broader range of outcomes, including penalty notices and cautions, to help understand how successful each stop and search is
• They will allow members of the public to apply to accompany officers on patrols
• They will only use the "no suspicion" Section 60 power when it is "necessary" to prevent serious violence
• Officers will need authorisation from a higher rank to use Section 60 powers under which someone may be stopped without grounds for suspicion. Permission would now likely come from an officer above the rank of chief superintendent rather than from a police inspector as done presently
• They will limit the initial use of Section 60 powers to 15 hours, from the existing 24 hours, and "communicate with communities" about the purpose and success of such use

Alex Marshall from the College of Policing told the BBC, : “People will support stop and search if it's targeted.”

The BBC also reported that in 2015, the police are expected to start mapping out where stop and search occurs. Results will be open to the public so that communities can see if one area is targeted more than others and demand to know the reasons for this.

Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock told the BBC the new code supports the force's "ongoing drive to make stop and search more intelligence-led and effective".

He said: “The Met has made significant improvements to stop and search over the last two years to not only reduce the total number of people we search, but also to ensure that our officers focus on those areas and types of crime that the public are most concerned about.

“Our work with communities and monitoring groups is helping to ensure we are more transparent than ever in how stop and search helps to reduce crime and keep people safe.”

Metropolitan Police 2013 statistics show 251,161 people were subject to stop and search in the 12 months to July 2014, and 47,141 arrests made.

It said 115,270 of those stopped were white, 72,016 were black and 34,267 were Asian.

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