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Stop and search revised back to 2014 with wider limits

Limits on stop and search are to be increased by the Home Secretary.

Time limits on stop and search zones and the legal reasons for imposing them are to be widened.

The Home Secretary has revealed plans to ease the restrictions on Section 60 rules.

But the decision puts the government at odds with the Independent Office for Police Conduct which wants to see a reduction in the disproportionate use of the power. 

And HM Inspectorate has also warned that forces need to explain why they use the tactic.

Civil rights groups warned there would be an impact on community relations.

Forces in England and Wales have been told by Home Secretary Priti Patel that the regulations are to be returned to pre-2014 which set limits on stop and search use in specific geographic areas and time restrictions.

The big changes are that more officers can authorise Section 60, the powers can be in place for longer and can be used when police anticipate that serious violence ‘may’ occur rather than ‘will’ occur.

The other changes are:

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Since 2019, the police have removed over 50,000 knives and offensive weapons from our streets and in the two years to March 2021, over 150,000 arrests were made following stop and search, preventing thousands of possible fatal injuries.

“I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work to drive down knife crime by making it easier for officers to use these powers to seize more weapons, arrest more suspects and save more lives.”

The next step will be re-writing the procedures for officers.

The Home Office has already asked the College of Policing to update its stop and search guidance, last issued in 2020, to ensure its fair and proportionate use.

The department also highlighted that Police and Crime Commissioners are part of the scrutiny process.

Merseyside has been highlighted by inspectors as one of the lead forces for best practice because it involves community leaders in reviewing incidents.

Leicester PCC Rupert Matthews said his force has a robust review process including checks on body worn video.

“We have independent processes and systems in place to examine the use of stop and search,” he said.

But there were warnings that increased use could backfire.

Civil rights group Liberty said: “We all want to feel safe in our communities, but the police don't use Stop and Search fairly or proportionately, so giving them even more power isn’t how we get there. We need to scrap powers like this and move towards community-led interventions.”

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