On New Year’s Eve, four young men were stabbed to death in London in unconnected crimes recording one of the saddest days of knife crime in the metropolis.
This is unusually rare that four men were killed in one night but this is absolutely standard on a Friday and Saturday night across London and we should question what the death toll would be if it weren’t for the magnificent skills of the ambulance service, their helicopter medics and the A&E departments.
It’s terrifying out there and we should question why such horrendous situations like this are occurring but the reasons are quite clear. Theresa May has cut the police service so that there are no longer police officers on the street and the control of the public space has been lost.
This is simply one manifestation of that, but there are infinite others.
Deaths on the road are increasing because road traffic police are going and shoplifting is going through the roof because there are no police officers to dispense with that. Antisocial behaviour is getting out of control again because there are no community officers.
Then there is the moped crime epidemic, there are no officers out there and those that are out there aren’t permitted to pursue.
It’s pretty simple. It’s solely down to Theresa May and her cuts to the police. She has the blood of these young people on her hands but I guess her reasoning would be that the task of policing has evolved a lot in the current years because presently there is the continuous intimidation of extremism and terrorism and of course that was something that she supposedly looked into for the New Year festivities because it was heightened.
However, Theresa May has been Home Secretary and the Prime Minister for almost eight years and she is solely accountable for this situation.
She has declined consistently to listen to trained police officers that have informed her that crime and the demands on policing have evolved but they haven’t gone away, they have just changed.
Approximately 3,000 armed police officers were brought into inner London to police the New Year’s festivities but those officers didn’t come from someplace else. They just came from someplace else in London.
They don’t simply have a box of police that is simply brought out for the night. That indicates there are fewer policemen elsewhere. So it’s no shock to discover that knife attacks took place on the outskirts of London and not in the heart of London where all the police were brought to.
There are too few police officers to keep the public protected and Theresa May has been told that repeatedly and she is disregarding it and it’s felonious.
Knife attacks seem to be going up, so what can be done to tackle it?
Maybe there should be Stop and search and police protection and appearances in public areas. That’s what keeps people protected at the pointed end, but officers must be in schools and officers must work with youth groups.
The Police need to be working with community groups and officers need to be working with the probation service to tackle and deal with offenders to prevent them from re-offending.
There are a thousand things that must be done and you can’t do them without officers, no matter how much this government goes on and on about making more use of technology and an Ipad is not going to stop a single stabbing.
Nothing appears to be increasing the awareness of this government they simply appear to be disregarding everything and why are they not handling this as the emergency that it is? It’s a public disaster occurring in slow motion in front of our eyes.
If these young people were white and they were on the streets of Maidenhead in her constituency and in Windsor, there would be absolute turmoil and it wouldn’t be overlooked and this is organised prejudice at the core of government.
The public expects the police to protect them from infliction by using the authorities given to them by Parliament in an effective and appropriate way, however, conceivably, some of the most meddlesome and controversial powers are those of stop and search.
For decades the unseemly use of these powers, both real and perceived, has disgraced the association between constables and the communities they serve, and in doing so has drawn into question the real legitimacy of the police service.
Thirty years following the disturbances in Brixton, concerns about how the police use stop and search powers were again raised following the disturbances in England in August 2011. Over a million stop and search encounters have been recorded every year following 2006, but only 9 percent of those led to an arrest in 2011/12.
Statistics further revealed that segments of black and minority racial groups were stopped and searched more than white people, compared to the resident community and while there was intense civil discussion about the excessive use of the powers on some assemblies, there was surprisingly limited care given by both the police service or the public on how efficient stop and search powers are in decreasing or identifying crime.
In a culture where policing is founded upon the system of permission, the police service requires the support of the people in order to be productive. By using their powers impartially and in a way that is effective in keeping the public protected, the police
can create community morale and inspire people to be more culturally competent in serving to reduce criminality and chaos.
Her Majesty‘s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an objective
inspectorate. It has a constitutional duty under section 54 of the Police Act 1996 to examine authorities in England and Wales and to report their performance and effectiveness.
The goals of this investigation are to ascertain how efficiently and impartially the police service is using those powers of stop and search in the fight against crime and to ascertain whether operational police officers know how to use stop and search powers tactically as part of evidence-based practice to combat crime and to recognise how the powers can be used in a way that builds the public’s confidence in the police, establishing the legitimacy of the service rather than eroding it.
There is no precise definition or recognised perception of what constitutes an adequate stop and search encounter. The legal rules
of stop and search are given to support police officers in the prevention and discovery of a crime, and to bypass needless arrests in situations where a swift search on the street might verify or remove an officer‘s suspicions.
The use of measures such as arrest rates is extensive amongst forces and valuable in terms of understanding how various forces use the powers to overcome or detect crime, but they are too oversimplified and can’t be viewed as an ideal example of victory.
For a stop and search encounter to be valid and legal, a police
officer must have fair grounds for suspicion, founded on specific and
unbiased information that a person is in possession of a stolen or forbidden item.
Those grounds should be thoroughly disclosed to the person being stopped and searched, and the person should be handled with civility, compassion and respect.
In such situations, obtaining the item and arresting the wrongdoer or eliminating the suspicion or bypassing an unnecessary arrest are both valid and victorious outcomes. However, the percentage of times on which stolen or prohibited items are located gives a symbolic measure of the strength of the grounds for suspicion but only seven of the 43 forces currently record how frequently these items are found.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (UK) examined all 43 police forces in England and Wales between October
2012 and April 2013 and approximately 500 senior managers were interviewed, including police officers of the rank of inspector and above, and conducted focus groups with over 550 operational constables and frontline supervisors.
To test this, unannounced visits to at least two police stations in each force area were made to examine their stop and search information at a local and national level. Policies were examined, plus methods and guidance papers relating to stop and search that was open to operational police officers.
Each force had created its own form on which to enter details of stop and search encounters, so they were matched to ascertain what data was being collected, and for what goal. Also checked were at least 200 completed records from each police force, to evaluate both their compliance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
Code A: Code of Practice for the exercise by police officers of statutory powers of stop and search, related to thereafter as the code of practice, and whether adequate grounds for carrying out searches were reported.
Studies of 19,078 members of the general public and 391 people who had been stopped and searched were performed, in order to collect their opinions on the use of stop and search powers and ultimately, video footage of stop and search encounters that had been recorded through body-worn cameras were evaluated.
Examinations ascertained that most respondents were knowledgeable of police powers to stop and search people and over three-quarters thought that use of the powers assists the police to apprehend offenders and deter or identify criminals and more than half the respondents stated that seeing the police using those powers in their areas made them feel protected.
Interestingly, a quarter of respondents thought that some groups of people in the community were likely to be stopped and searched more frequently than others, with a third attributing this to criminal differentiation, this number grew to about 55 percent amongst black and adolescence racial respondents.
The effective use of stop and search powers rely on police officers installing the tone and method of policing, and managing or determining how the police use those powers, with a readiness to mediate when things are not done accurately.
Nationally, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), working with the College of Policing, has created an Authorised Professional Practice document which gives national recommendations for the use of stop and search powers.
Within forces, however, it was observed that many levels of consideration were given to stop and search powers by chief officers. Most did not, by reason of generally high levels of public satisfaction with the police and low levels of stop and search-related complaints, considered that stop and search was a high priority.
There was a notable slippage in the level of attention given to
the management and administration of stop and search powers by senior officers since the publication of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report in 1999.
As a consequence of the budget cuts ordered by the Government‘s 2010 spending review, forces were attempting to do more with less support. It was therefore very surprising that the use of stop and search powers was not better directed at stopping or identifying those violations the force considered to be the most significant.
Most forces concentrated on stopping and identifying theft, burglary and other property violations and, in big city neighbourhoods, extreme crime. While those priorities imply that stop and search powers would be targeted at property crime and weapons, nearly half of the searches nationwide were for drugs, and of those searches, most were for low-level street possession.
The Metropolitan Police Service noticed this and took measures to use stop and search powers better in stopping those violations they thought to be most significant however in 2008, HMIC highlighted that there were extensive fundamental skills gaps
at frontline sergeant level.
Five years on, this investigation identified that this had not changed in relation to the exercise of stop and search powers.
The code of practice puts a particular responsibility on supervisors to monitor the use of stop and search in order to stop its abuse. Yet, there were disturbingly low levels of supervision of officers conduct of stop and search encounters, and of how they recorded them.
There were discrepancies in the documentation of searches, evidence that people searched were not always presented with the information required by the code of practice, and that they were not
always fairly treated.
A startling 27 percent (2,338) of stop and search records reviewed by HMIC did not include reasonable grounds to search people, even though several of these records had been approved by supervisors.
They were not performing their responsibilities as stated by the code of practice. In addition, this proposed that police forces may not have been completely complying with the terms of the public sector equality duty, which expects them to have adequate regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination and promote fairness of opportunity, encourage good relations and to that point, ensure that they are appropriately collecting,
examining and publishing the facts to show that they have adequate
data to explain the impact of their work.
These duties are critical in protecting the public from the misuse of this intrusive power. This shows a disturbing deficiency in the frontline supervision of stop and search powers.
Less than half of forces complied with the requirement in the code of practice to make arrangements for the public to scrutinise the use of stop and search powers. Acknowledging the significance of keeping the public informed, it is shocking how little forces consulted or interacted with the public about their use of stop and search powers.
Approximately half of the forces did nothing to understand the impact of stop and search encounters upon communities, with just a really small number proactively seeking the opinions of the people and communities most affected.
For forces to understand the effectiveness of their use of stop and search powers, they needed to assemble pertinent data but each force was using a different method to assemble what is, in the main, inadequate data about stop and search encounters.
The lack of relevant data made it pretty difficult for forces to understand the impact that stop and search encounters was having against crime and community morale and there was only a limited suggestion that forces were instructing officers and then deployed them to use stop and search powers in crime hot spots, or against persistent offenders or crime groups.
And where they did, forces did not examine the activity to conclude whether deployments had a bearing on crime levels or public morale.
Data is an important by-product of stop and search encounters, nevertheless numerous forces did not use the data collected from these encounters as part of their intelligence pictures and only five forces had an intelligence field as part of their search records, with all other forces depending on officers presenting a separate form, which in most forces was optional.
Most officers had not undergone any training in the use of stop and search powers after they entered the service and only 21 forces gave any kind of refresher training, and in many of those, the training was delivered by e-learning packages.
Those forces which had made significant investments in training in the use of stop and search powers had done so because of outside demand from oversight groups, such as the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), or to accompany variations in recording methods.
In the absence of proper training, it was discovered that police officers were developing practices which were acquired through observing and listening to others. This can be a positive approach if experienced teachers are involved but contrarily can lead to the
spread of improper or, in some instances, illegal practices, for instance, searches carried out without reasonable grounds for suspicion.
There is a need to develop a structured national training curriculum to develop officers perception of their use of the powers, the establishment of equitable grounds, and the impact of the use of the powers upon communities, and how to use those powers efficiently in stopping crime.
Forces should ensure that training is given and that they are prepared to promote training and development by identifying those who use the powers efficiently so that they can train and
assist their co-workers.
There has been inadequate financing in developing the technology and the connected infrastructure to assist officers walking the streets and it was found some promising improvements in information systems and in the mobile devices that could be used to access them whilst officers were on patrol, but these
were not widespread across the service.
Only 17 forces had the capability to record stop and search encounters on the street electronically, and in most circumstances, these methods were inaccurate or did not give a complete spectrum of functions to help officers adequately.
In developing electronic recording systems, there is a tension between the drive to overcome bureaucracy on the one hand,
and the collection of satisfactory knowledge to recognise the effectiveness of stop and search encounters on the other.
Recording less information and substituting supervisory oversight with computerised checking systems may decrease bureaucracy and cost, but it does not necessarily provide the information needed to evaluate whether the use of stop and search powers is
The development of other technology, including body-worn video cameras and detection devices, such as metal detectors, can help the police in using stop and search powers more efficiently. The use of video recording seems to improve the behaviour of the subject and the officer, while detection aids offer an opportunity to screen people without resorting to the intrusiveness of
a full search and these possibilities should be further investigated and utilised.
Very few forces could show that use of stop and search powers was founded on an understanding of what serves best to lower crime, and seldom was it targeted at priority offences in their areas. Forces had decreased the volume of information received to decrease bureaucracy, but this had reduced their capacity to recognise the impact of the use of stop and search powers on crime levels
and community morale.
And better use of technology could help by giving frontline officers with real-time data and the ability simply to record data that could enhance the use of those powers.