Stop and search: police carry out highest number in seven years, figures show

Police have carried out the highest number of stop and searches in seven years, with the figure rising by more than 50% in 12 months, official statistics show.

There were 558,973 stop and searches carried out in the year to March under section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Pace) in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures published on Tuesday.

The powers allow police to search people and vehicles without a warrant.

This is the highest number of stops and searches since 2013/14 (872,518), but still below the peak in 2010/11 (1,179,746), the report said.

It is also an increase of 193,419 (53%) compared to the 2018/19, when 365,554 searches were recorded.

The report added: “The Metropolitan Police service accounts for half of the increase in the number of stops and searches in latest year.”

Of the 558,973, 73,423 led to an arrest, up 28% from the previous year (57,546).

The statistics cover all stop and search powers which police have under Pace, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the Terrorism Act 2000.

According to the figures, there were a further 18,081 stops and searches carried out under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (known as an s60) in anticipation of violence – an increase of 35% compared with the previous year (13,414).

Last year the Home Office rolled back restrictions on the s60 tactic as part of a bid to crack down on knife crime and violence, which some critics branded “controversial”.

The powers, which can be in force for up to 48 hours, give police the right to search people in a defined area during a specific time period when they believe serious violence will occur.

A police officer at work (Joe Giddens/PA)
A police officer at work (Joe Giddens/PA)

Officers can look for weapons before they can be used, or those used in a recent attack and do not need “serious grounds for suspicion if serious violence is anticipated”, only a reasonable belief that a disturbance “may” occur.

The majority of stop and searches under both Pace and s60 powers (76% or 437,139 out of 577,054) resulted in no further action being taken, a similar proportion to the previous year (73%).

People from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds were stopped at a rate of 4.1 times higher than those who were white, a similar rate to the previous year (4.3), the report added.

Data from Greater Manchester Police is not included because the force is still unable to provide figures due to ongoing technology problems.

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