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IOPC to issue stop and search advice

Frontline officers are to get advice from the conduct watchdog on handling stop and searches with BAME people following an investigation of a case in Cambridgeshire

Guidance is set to be issued to officers in a bid to reduce the number of complaints linked to stop and search.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is creating a best practice code to enable frontline officers avoid problem contacts from improper use of the tactic.

The new guidance emerges as part of a verdict on a case involving Cambridgeshire Constabulary when a black motorist was stopped and made an accusation of racial proifiling. The IOPC found no misconduct by any officer involved in the stop although one is to receive diversity training.  

The IOPC said in a statement following the investigation: "We are currently working on national learning recommendations in relation to stop and search. As part of this, we are looking at how traffic stops are recorded and how the police can avoid using intelligence in a way that is discriminatory. Our work on this has been informed by the findings of this investigation and will be published in due course." 

The complaint followed an incident in Ely in March 2015 when a driver was stopped and questioned.

The force referred itself to the IOPC in June last year when a video clip of the incident was shared on social media.

The investigation found that whilst the officers involved did have some local intelligence on which the decision to stop the complainant was based, this intelligence was seven months old and the description of the people of concern was no more specific than ‘Black men’. Other factors, such as the demographics of the area and the fact it was known for drug dealing, were not specific to the man being stopped.

The complainant was not searched or arrested.

It was accepted by the IOPC that the officer had acted in good faith for a legitimate policing purpose. He had apologised for the upset caused to the man and acknowledged that he could have provided a clearer explanation at the time.    

The IOPC said the officer should reflect on whether the intelligence justified the stop, why it could be seen as discrimination and the impact it had on the man involved.

A second officer was found to have no case to answer as the complainant did not believe he was present during the conversation.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “This incident rightly raised concerns about public confidence in policing and not least from the Black community.

“We examined the stop and found that there was room for improvement in some of the interactions with the man, who was justified in querying why he was told that he was stopped on the grounds of his race.”

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