Concerns that 173 out of 4609 Stop and Searches had not had the ‘reason’ for the search recorded properly has prompted the County’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Charles to take action.
The Commissioner, who expects a 100% recording rate, agreed with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) that improvement was also required in the area of recording ‘outcomes’ of the searches. HMIC came to this conclusion during its 2015 PEEL inspections into how legitimate Derbyshire Constabulary was at keeping people safe and reducing crime.
Receiving Chief Constable Mick Creedon’s Stop and Search report at his Strategic Governance Board (SGB) meeting at Police HQ in Ripley, the Commissioner asked for an updated report in six months’ time with a view to evaluating progress.
The HMIC inspections, which were carried out in all forces throughout England and Wales, gave Derbyshire an overall grading of ‘Good’ in its findings that were released earlier this month. But the Stop and Search area was graded as ‘requires improvement’, highlighting the need for officers to record the range of ‘outcomes’ after carrying out a Stop and Search. This was in line with the recommendation from the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme introduced by the Home Secretary in 2014.
Chief Constable Creedon told the meeting that since the inspections the force had been making further progress. This included the introduction to all officers of a new recording form that provided the force with much more information and detail in this area than ever before. “The Constabulary continues to work to be fully compliant,” he said.
He also pointed out in his report that the number of stop and searches made without a reason recorded had fallen significantly in 2015 at 89.6% lower than in 2013. Searches on suspicion of drug activity remain the main reason for a person to be searched, accounting for just over six out of ten stop and searches.
The meeting, last week, (22 February) heard that scrutiny of the Stop and Search records is now to sit with The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner – a move welcomed by the Commissioner particularly in light of his concerns regarding non-recording issues.
This scrutiny follows a previous HMIC recommendation that arrangements be introduced for community groups to scrutinise Stop and Search records. As a result of that recommendation, a new Stop and Search Advisory Group (SSAG) of community representatives was formed and set up arrangements with diverse groups and younger persons to scrutinise records and question the police on the Stop and Search activity in their area.
The Commissioner said that the involvement of his Office would ensure that communities could have confidence in the independence of this important scrutiny.
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Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2016