Stop and search is an emotional topic. Some individuals condemn the process, whilst others feel violated and targeted by the system. There has been a 24% increase in the number of stops and searches, since March 2020.
In England and Wales, stop and searches are often carried out under Section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. This enables the police to stop and question an individual at any point in time if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you’re carrying: illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime. Currently, an officer is entitled to ask for your name, the reason for being in the area and where you will be travelling to. However, by law, you do not have to stop or answer any of these questions, as this alone cannot be a reason to arrest you. There is a rising concern by ethnic minority groups that the stop and searches are not conducted fairly or consistently. Furthermore, figures suggest that ethnic minority groups are overrepresented in the statistics about stops and searches. In March 2020, the MET subjected 52.6% of ethnic minority groups to a stop and search. In contrast, only 7.5% of their white counterparts were, showing a vast statistical disparity.
Moreover, Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 enables an officer to conduct a ‘no suspicion’ stop and search under no reasonable grounds. A high-Rank officer can extend the searches for up to 24 hours. The officer searching must be in uniform. Failure to condemn the process under section 60 can result in up to a month’s imprisonment, a level 3 fine, or both. The fine would be a maximum of £1,000. During the search, an officer can ask an individual to remove an item of clothing if in suspicion. If the officer requires the removal of religious items, this must be done respectfully, out of public view.
Unfortunately, this matter continues to be a prevalent part of society. Subsequently, minority groups believe the government should introduce a system which reduces the statistical disparity and offer a more coherent approach to stop and search. This could have the potential to prevent the occurrence of unjust rulings, specifically against minority groups.
For further information on this topic or any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372303444 or email email@example.com or visit our Linkedin page.