West Yorkshire Police sign up to stop and search mapping (30 Jan 2015)

West Yorkshire Police today joined a ground-breaking new Home Office scheme which sees details of police stops and searches mapped online.

The Force is one of 14 which launched the stop and search mapping scheme on www.police.uk today. The initiative allows the public to see exactly where this important power is used and what the outcome of every stop and search is. It means for the first time people in West Yorkshire can see details like the ethnicity, gender and age range of those who are stopped and searched.

The Home Office committed last year to using geo-mapping technology to make stop and search more transparent than ever before, to bring greater accountability to how forces are using stop and search and to improve the way officers use the sensitive power.

In December, West Yorkshire Police joined the Government's Best Use of Stop and Search scheme (BUSS), which restricts the use of Section 60 "no suspicion" powers, gives members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice and introduced a community complaints trigger, ensuring that complaints are properly monitored and scrutinised. West Yorkshire Police is committed through the scheme to reduce the overall use of stop and search and have more intelligence-led stop and searches.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Mapping the use of stop and search online gives the public and the police a better understanding of how and where these sensitive powers are actually being used.

"I'm delighted that West Yorkshire Police is participating so people in the force area can view where stop and searches are taking place.

"This scheme is a significant step forward in the Government's commitment to increasing transparency and is the first time stop and search data has been presented in this way.

"This Government's reforms to make stop and search more intelligence-led and accountable are working and the number of stop and searches has fallen by a quarter since I became Home Secretary. But we cannot be complacent and must ensure that the public can hold the police to account for their use of these powers.

"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."

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Paul Money said: "The powers given to officers to stop and search are a vital tool in keeping our communities safe. They can and do assist in both the prevention and detection of crime as well as  negating the need for an arrest to take place.

"Members of the public rightly want to know that these powers are being used properly, effectively and proportionately. We want to be open about the use of stop and search and we already have independent scrutiny panels made up of members of the public reviewing its use.

"We have now increased transparency and public accountability as part of our involvement in the Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.  This includes us recording stop and searches through mobile technology and improving the quality of the information on the record to make it clearer what happened and why.  Anyone who has been stopped and searched can ask for a copy of this record and each stop and search record is checked by a supervisor to ensure that the search was justified and done in accordance with the law. 

"As a Force we sought to become involved in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme as soon as we could.  We want to be effective in our use of stop and search, targeting it through intelligence and crime mapping to areas where we think it will be of most use, but we also want the public to be confident that it is being used fairly and for the right reasons - the Best Use of Stop and Search helps with that."

"Our stop and search figures are already published on an annual basis but the mapping of stop and search data on the police.uk website will provide members of the public with this information in an easily accessible way which can be localised to a specific area."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "I welcome the move to map stop and search data in such a detailed way at a local level for the first time.

"This data forms part of a series of measures that I asked West Yorkshire Police to sign up to as part of the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme back in August.

"The scheme also involves the recording of stops in more detail and gives members the opportunity to apply to accompany officers on patrol.

"I am really pleased that communities will be able to look at this data for the first time at such a local level, and this will, I am sure, prompt key questions and I would encourage communities to share with me any comments, views and concerns around all aspects of stop and search.

"West Yorkshire has previously pioneered the use of crime maps, with West Yorkshire Police Authority setting up www.beatcrime.info in 2005 to allow residents of West Yorkshire to map where crimes happened in their local area. I was very supportive of this initiative while Chair of the Authority. Crime mapping BeatCrime was actually first launched and pioneered in West Yorkshire and achieved national recognition.

"This is a great way to show communities the true stop and search picture, I have had a short time to review the data prior to launch and already have some key questions to ask of West Yorkshire Police and www.police.uk."

Users are being encouraged to provide feedback through a link on www.police.uk during the course of the pilots. The Home Office is also taking advice from the Information Commissioner's Office to ensure that published information does not allow individuals to be identified.

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