Stop and search is still disproportional to ethnicity in England and Wales, but Nottinghamshire Police remain “better placed” than other forces, says Paddy Tipping.

Data from 2018-19 shows stop and searches conducted in Nottinghamshire outperform the national average when it comes to ethnicity.

The county’s former Police and Crime Commissioner believes there are several reasons behind the recent success including the use of intelligence, introduction of body cameras and the ability for public scrutiny of footage.

Following reform in 2014, changes to stop and search include:

  • Making officers subject to performance & disciplinary hearings if found abusing powers.
  • Increased use of body-worn cameras (BMVs) in many forces across the country.
  • Limiting Section 60: “no suspicion” powers only allowed when “necessary” in preventing serious violence.
  • Allowing members of public to accompany officers on patrol.

52% of all stop and searches between 2018-2019 were conducted on White people, who according to 2011 Census data, make up 95% of Nottinghamshire’s population.

However, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows only 5% of stop and searches were conducted on White people with over half carried out on Black or Black British people.

The video below explains some of the processes involved and some of the issues surrounding police stop and search both locally and nationally:

 

Despite seemingly doing better than other forces across the UK, stop and search still disproportionately affects black people, who make up 0.65% of the county’s population (2011 Census). “There is still disproportionality there, but it’s been coming down” Tipping claims.

He says “good and strong relationships with the Black and Asian communities have been really important” in reducing unfair treatment of ethnic groups.

Beyond dialogue with BAME communities, he also points to a number of recent projects contributing heavily to Nottinghamshire Police’s stop and search success.

One of these has been the introduction of ‘Operation Reacher’ teams since April 2018. Each is equipped with seven officers, who handle drug-related crime across the county. This has been done using stop and searches, drug raids and other intelligence-led exploits.

Tipping argues the use of intelligence is one of the main reasons why Nottinghamshire Police’s knife crime team has had a significant success rate, the best in England and Wales. This is because 40% of all stop and searches carried out by their dedicated taskforce have found people with either weapons or drugs in their possession.

Additionally, ‘Operation Sceptre’ is an attempt to increase knife amnesties in the county. Nottinghamshire Police are confident that the national operation will continue to reduce weapon-related crime locally. This is because the amnesties seek to encourage people to hand in their weapons to designated bins without facing any repercussions.

Weapons from amnesty bins taken by Nottinghamshire Police in 2018.

Though these measures have contributed to an increase in stop and search on previous years, he insists the safety of people on our streets is the force’s main priority.

Stop and search success is based on the force achieving a positive outcome. This includes:

  • Seizing weapons and/or drugs
  • Making an arrest where necessary
  • Finding further information that can help solve a crime

Nottinghamshire Police have also radically increased the use of BMVs since 2018 with officers instructed to turn their cameras on when conducting all stop and searches. All footage is recorded and members of the public can request this footage to scrutinise.

Recorded footage also allows senior officials to see which officers are conducting stop and searches, how often they conduct them and where. They are therefore able to hold officers accountable and call them into formal disciplinary hearings where necessary.

Stop and search rates are expected to rise as the country recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic.

This is because Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to increase police presence as his party takes a tougher stance on policing in the UK. The Conservative Party made a gain of 10 new Police and Crime Commissioners in the recent elections including in Nottinghamshire where Caroline Henry replaces Labour’s Paddy Tipping.