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Commissioner’s response – HMIC Inspection – Stop and Search Powers: are the police using them effectively and fairly?

15th August 2013

Response to the national report published in July 2013 and in particular the findings relating to Northumbria.

I welcome both the national report on stop and search and the local perspective provided in relation to Northumbria Police. I particularly welcome and support the objectives of the inspection; to ensure that the police service is using stop and search in a way that builds the trust of local communities and as a tool to effectively fight crime.

I am reassured that within Northumbria Police, HMIC found that staff showed a good understanding of the legislation and statutory requirements and that there is a culture of being polite and fair with people in all interactions including stop and search.  The report identified some areas for improvement around understanding the effectiveness of stop and search on recorded and detected crime and the need ensure that stop and search is recorded appropriately.

At our Strategic Management Board an action plan in response to the areas for improvement identified locally and nationally was presented.  This comprehensive plan includes work to:

  • Strengthen the way that officers monitor stop and search to ensure that officers are acting in accordance with the code of practice and equality legislation;
  • Design an improved training programme for Northumbria officers;
  • Increased officer awareness of trends in relation to stop and search so they understand how it should be used fair and effectively and impact on local communities; and
  • Ensure that stop and search is scrutinised by local communities, especially young people.

Moving forward I will monitor delivery of this action plan through my performance management regime and specifically at the Joint Equality Board who will receive progress reports and information on proportionality and the monitoring of complaints around stop and search.

From a community perspective I work closely with my standing Advisory Groups, in relation to stop and search specifically with the Belief/BME and Faith Advisory Group.  The group is made up of local community members and their remit includes highlighting issues affecting the community that relate to or affect Northumbria Police.