Evaluating the (best) use of Stop and Search: Police Officer Perspectives

Authors: Healy, J., Cole, T. and Hylton, G.

Start date: 3 July 2019

The ‘Best use of Stop & Search Scheme’ was launched by the Home Office in 2014 to improve transparency, community involvement and more intelligence-led policing in England and Wales. It required forces to monitor their use of ‘Stop Search’, particularly as it relates to individuals from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups who historically and contemporaneously are disproportionately more likely to be stopped than Whites (Joyce, 2017). In 2017/18, the biggest difference in Stop Search rates between Black and White people was in Dorset, where Black people were 17 times more likely to be stopped and searched than their White counterparts, compared to a national average of 9.5 times (Home Office, 2019). This paper presents findings from two focus groups conducted with nine Dorset Police officers and one civilian trainer on this issue. Analysis of focus group contributions identified both local and structural factors associated with a reduction in Stop Search practice. This paper discusses some of those findings, including the impact of increasing austerity measures on policing practice; a reduction in ‘double crewing’; and a reluctance to use Stop Search, particularly from trainee officers, who fear being labelled racist.

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