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Essex: Stop and search review ‘could thwart Clacton knife crime clampdown’

10:49 13 January 2014

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton

Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton

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A clampdown on knife crime in Essex could be thwarted by the Home Office in its review of stop and search powers, an MP has warned.

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Clacton MP Douglas Carswell said he was concerned that plans for new guidelines might not foresee all circumstances, damaging local policing efforts.

Essex Police have been using stop and search in his coastal north east Essex constituency after a spate of knife attacks in the town.

Mr Carswell said: “If you look at the broad data for Tendring it is not a problem.

“But if you talk about what happens in a few blocks, there is an issue.

“They have devised a specific way of policing that part of Clacton which is really effective and they use stop and search quite aggressively.

“In a lot of communities that would be inappropriate. But I think people support it and they support it strongly.

“They realise we need to ensure there is an element of risk in carrying a knife. If you carry a knife you run the risk of being searched.”

The Clacton MP has tabled a written question to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to ensure the review of police stop-and-search powers will enable Essex Police to continue to take the same action to deter anyone from carrying a knife in Clacton.

He said: “Obviously the Home Secretary has got a job to do because there are parts of the country where there are people with ethnic minority heritage being stopped and searched, and that is causing resentment.

“But that is not the issue. The guidelines that are produced by the Home Office to ensure there is fair and just policing in inner London must not prevent the sort of local policing we have in Clacton.

“I wanted to put on record now my concerns.

“Big government does not always foresee all circumstances and I want them to understand the circumstances of a couple of wards in the centre of Clacton.”

Home Office minister Norman Baker said the Government was clear that stop and search powers were useful tools for the police in the fight against crime, particularly knife crime, and that it would publish its conclusions in due course.

Mrs May launched a public consultation on the police powers in England and Wales last summer. About a million stops take place each year - but only 9% lead to an arrest.

When the tactic was misused it wasted police time and undermined public confidence, she said, adding that no-one should be stopped “just on the basis of their skin colour”.

At the moment, a police officer has powers to stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime.

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