We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Met's 'overreliance' on stop search reason for high levels of knife crime

A report has said the Met's use of stop search and "neglect" of neighbourhood policing is responsible for high rates of knife crime and low rates of apprehending serious criminals

The Met has been accused of using an “unjustified strategy” around tackling knife crime and stop search which "relied too heavily on this tactic alone".

The think tank Policy Exchange report called stop and search a “very effective tool that has undoubtedly saved many lives across the capital”.

But it added: “The failure of the Met lies in their neglect of other tactics to be used alongside this one.”

Titled Knife Crime in the Capital, the report analysed data which shows compared to Merseyside Police (Liverpool), West Midlands Police (Birmingham), and West Yorkshire Police (Leeds and Bradford), the Met has the highest rate of stop and search, lowest rate for apprehending drug traffickers and second lowest rate of officers involved in neighbourhood policing.

It said: “The strategy the MPS has chosen to pursue is highly irregular when compared to other big cities, even when taking the unique challenges of policing London into account.”

The Met's stop and search rate is 5.5 times that of West Yorkshire, the rate at which they apprehend drug traffickers is less than a third that of Merseyside, while the strength of Neighbourhood Policing in London is just over half that of the West Midlands and less than half that of Merseyside.

The report stated high profile criminals and gang members who are responsible for organising criminal networks are less involved in street level crime and therefore less likely to be apprehended through stop and search and the Met has not focused enough on targeting these criminals.

Published today (Monday 11 October), the report said the number of fatal stabbings in London doubled between 2013 and 2019 despite survival rates for victims of knife attacks increasing by 50 per cent due to improvements to NHS trauma units since 2010.

They said the data showed much of the reduction in knife crime since 2019 is down to coronavirus restrictions.

A foreword by former Met assistant commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said there was an argument for a “fresh look” at policing tactics.

"The MPS have not struck the correct balance between stop and search, apprehending high profile criminals, and investing in neighbourhood policing," he writes. "We are not against stop and search, which is an effective tool that has undoubtedly saved many lives across the capital, the failure of the MPS lies in their neglect of other tactics to be used alongside this.

“The Met appears to adopt a highly suppressive approach yet puts fewer resources and less effort into community policing and pro-active prosecution of drugs gangs."

It recommends the Mayor and Met should commit to re-establishing a more substantial and sustainable model of Neighbourhood Policing, increasing the current minimum model of Safer Neighbourhood Teams across the 632 wards of London to at least three officers and one PCSO per ward and a minimum of one Sergeant per two wards.

The report lamented the lack of commitment being made on the numbers of Sergeants across Safer Neighbourhood Teams, “a critical element of a successful neighbourhood policing model”.

“Successful Neighbourhood Policing Teams require strong leadership, for which Sergeants are required,” it said.

It also mentioned the “unpromising” early results of the Met’s trial of Knife Crime Protection Orders with not a single successful application during the first six weeks.

As part of the recommendations, the report suggested the police and related bodies do more to explain data around crime and police operations.

“I am at a loss as to why organisations such as the College of Policing or HMICFRS are not producing this type of analysis,” writes Sir Mark.

“These are the organisations tasked with inspecting the activities of the police and bringing a scientific approach to ‘what works’ in policing, yet they have failed to raise awareness as to the unusual and apparently unsuccessful imbalance in the MPS’ strategy.

“The Home Secretary, Mayor, PCCs and police chiefs can hardly be expected to make the best decisions, if the quality of research they are being presented with is below par.”

In a statement, the Met said: “We very deliberately are targeting and putting more resources into areas blighted by higher levels of violence and other serious crime. We use a range of tactics to tackle violence of which stop and search is just one element.

“Stop and search is just one of the tactics that helps us drive down the number of young people stabbed on our streets, it leads to the arrest of dangerous criminals, prevents crime, protects people and deters potential offenders. Every month through this tactic alone, the Met seizes around 400 weapons.

“We understand that how we carry out stops and search is vital and that inherently the experience is intrusive and can be embarrassing for the person being searched. Therefore we strive to make every encounter of stop and search professional and courteous.

They said they are taking steps to better listen and respond to concerns and were working with communities to improve their use of stop and search, including involving them in improving our training through their lived experiences of having been stopped and searched.

“We want to be accountable and transparent. The use of stop and search powers is rightly scrutinised both within the Met and externally through the Community Monitoring Groups and the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”

Leave a Comment
View Comments 11
In Other News
Online curbs for knife sales but no cash for enforcement
West Yorkshire praised for diversity and stop and search work
Gangs using social media from prison 'undermines' justice system
Knife crime: messaging can backfire, warns force lead
Number of stop searches by Met almost halved in a year
Media narrative on stop search "damaging to community relations"
More News