West Yorkshire Police fully implement the Government’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (1 Dec 2014)

West Yorkshire Police has fully launched the Government's Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

The voluntary scheme, which was announced by the Home Secretary in April, is part of a range of measures that will contribute to a reduction in the overall use of stop and search, lead to better and more intelligence-led stop and searches and more effective outcomes.

Thirty-five forces, including West Yorkshire Police, will be implementing all aspects of the scheme to:

  • Increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome;
  • Restrict the use of Section 60 "no suspicion" powers;
  • Give members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice; and
  • Introduce a community complaints trigger - ensuring that complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

"Stop and search powers are vital in the fight against crime when used correctly. However, they must be applied fairly and only when needed - and in a way that builds community confidence rather than undermining it.

"West Yorkshire Police is dedicated to reforming their use of stop and search powers, saving officers' time and increasing transparency within the local community. I'm delighted they have now fully implemented the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

"Stop and search reforms are working. The number of searches are down under this government, by 15% in the last year alone. But we cannot be complacent and must ensure that the public can hold the police to account for their use of these powers." 

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "Stop and search powers are a valuable policing tool and help us to prevent and detect crime in our communities. However, it is important that we focus our stop and search activity and use these powers with professionalism and proportionality

"On a regular basis we hold independent scrutiny panels which enable us to review how our officers use these powers and make sure that we are publically accountable. We are also championing the use of body worn video technology which means our interactions during stop and search will be recorded which provides greater public accountability.

"The scheme announced today will ensure that we continue to make improvements in the way we use our stop and search powers and we welcome the greater transparency this will bring."

Mark Burns-Williamson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, said: "I am delighted that West Yorkshire Police has signed up to the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

"It involves recording the outcome of stops in clearer detail and giving members of the community the opportunity to apply to accompany officers on patrol when stops are undertaken. The sign up to this scheme comes after previous conversations I had with the Home Office.

"Stop and Search needs to be intelligence led, used proportionately, sensitively and fairly and those stopped should be able to clearly understand the reason for such stops and searches, and also share any concerns they have which will be taken seriously and evaluated as part of the scheme."

The Home Secretary also announced today that British Transport Police will be joining the scheme before the end of the year. The Home Office is working with BTP to ensure that they are able to implement the scheme's requirements early in the new year.

From today West Mercia and Nottinghamshire police will begin a pilot scheme that will digitally map stop and searches, identifying locations where stop and searches take place using geo-mapping technology. The data will be uploaded to Police.uk so the public can monitor the use of stop and search powers.

And following an eight-week public consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code A, which governs the police's use of stop and search, the Home Secretary will lay a revision to Code A in parliament this week. This revision will make clear to officers what constitutes 'reasonable grounds for suspicion' and to emphasise that the misuse of stop and search powers would lead to performance or disciplinary procedures.

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