Stop Search in Gloucestershire
In Gloucestershire, a considerable amount of work is continuing to ensure Stop and Search is used appropriately and to ensure the Constabulary is as transparent as possible.
In particular, the following measures are being taken:
- Front line officers will soon be using mobile devices to record stop searches, which will improve the reliability of Stop and Search data and the quality of recording
- We will be making information available to the Stop and Search mapping function of www.police.uk so the public can see where and why Stop and Searches happen
- The community are now able to observe how our officers work, and potentially the use of Stop and Search, on our Ride Along scheme (please click here to download the Ride along scheme application form)
- More training is being introduced for officers and will involve young people who have experienced Stop and Search to improve realism and make more worthwhile
- Designated specialist officers across the force will scrutinise every stop search.
Chief Inspector Neil Smith, of Gloucestershire Police, said:
"Gloucestershire Constabulary is fully integrated with the Home Office’s Best Use of Stop Search Scheme (BUSSS).
This was introduced by the then Home Secretary; now PM Theresa May in 2015/16.
The main aims within the BUSSS were for all UK Police Forces to become more transparent with Stop Search, to allow members of their communities to have oversight of searches that are carried out and to offer members of these communities the chance to observe any Stop Searches that are carried out.
Gloucestershire Constabulary have created a “Community Oversight Group” for Stop Search, they sit every quarter and discuss in detail any Stop Searches that they wish.
Gloucestershire Constabulary send all of their Stop Searches to a Home Office led website, this is www.police.uk.
Here all members of our communities can view the Stop Searches that have taken place across Gloucestershire; most crucially they can see WHY they have taken place.
The group’s activities will be publically launched next year with the outcomes of the oversight meetings being recorded and displayed on their own website.
Stop Search has been a highly emotive subject within Policing in the UK for the past 30 years and police services have been publicly criticised over the years for abusing their powers with Stop Searches, especially when it comes to members of our BAME communities.
Officers across the force are issued with Mobile Devices, these are utilised in most cases now to carry out Stop Searches.
All Stop Search forms are completed on the mobile device and members of the public are offered the opportunity to attend a police station to get a copy of the form.
Once the officer has completed their form it will electronically go to their line manager (usually a Sergeant), the Sergeant will Quality Assure the form; checking that it was legitimately carried out and has been recorded correctly with enough detail to justify the search.
We also have supervisors across front line policing who are Stop Search Champions; part of their role is to carry out “dip sampling” of all the Stop Searches that are completed within their area.
This adds another layer of Quality Assurance, not only to the officer completing the form but to the line manager who quality assures it in the first place.
This gives us a further opportunity to identify best practice and learn any lessons.
Stop Search is something that is taken very seriously within Gloucestershire Constabulary; it is a highly effective policing tactic to use but it MUST be used correctly as it can be very intrusive and influential on our communities.
Because of this, people who are stopped must be treated with respect and officer’s behaviour must be of the highest level.
Gloucestershire Police carry out on average 2-4 Stop Searches a day (from across the County) and over the last two years we have only received one complaint.
All of the community members I have spoken to around Stop Search are hugely supportive of the scheme if it is utilised in a fair and justified manner.
Many Operations have been carried out in areas of Gloucestershire in the last 2/3 years that have utilised justified Stop Search powers; targeting suspected offenders who are involved in Drug Dealing, possession of Knifes and other weapons.
We still have a long way to go to build the trust and confidence of our BAME communities when it comes to Stop Search but we are making giant positive strides of progress."
Update 31 May 2016
Our Stop Search implementation plan and policy is available to view by clicking here