Newham Borough Commander Ch Supt Rob Jones on stop and search


- Credit: Archant

One of the policing powers that causes most concern in the community is stop and search.

News of a public consultation on stop and search by the Home Secretary is very welcome and I am keen to make the most of it.

We have made significant improvements in Newham over the past year. In June, one in five people searched was arrested for a crime. A year ago, it was less than one in ten. We have also raised the threshold before a senior officer will authorise an authority to allow stop and search to prevent serious violence in a location – and we have managed to do this at the same time as reducing youth violence and gang activity. Stop and search needs to be conducted fairly, and people who are subjected to it have a right to be given the information to help them to understand why the power is being used. This is important because young men are far more likely to be stopped and searched. It is also about providing protection. I want my officers to feel confident to use stop and search, provided it is done in the right time, at the right place and in the right way.

It needs to being used to prevent violence, and although there are also powers to search for drugs or stolen property, we need to be clear that it is about keeping people from harm. This is a difficult balance to achieve, and is certainly an area that should be open to public debate, wider than the police.

So does stop and search reduce crime? Common sense suggests that taking weapons away from people, and discouraging others from carrying them is a good thing, especially when it is combined with educating young people.

Most serious youth violence involves knives and a few months ago a young man, Champion Ganda, lost his life in a street in Forest Gate in one such incident. I will rigorously defend any tactic that helps us to prevent the loss of lives.

But we need more evidence and that is why we have teamed up with neighbours in Hackney to see if we can test stop and search in a scientific trial.

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We propose to use body cameras and different briefing techniques to see if stop and search impacts on crime levels and confidence.

I will share what we discover with you, but more importantly I hope that you notice the difference.