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Essex police chief defends stop and search after spike in its use

PUBLISHED: 18:39 27 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:39 27 October 2020

Senior police officer defends use of stop and search after county sees rise in its usage  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Senior police officer defends use of stop and search after county sees rise in its usage Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A senior Essex police officer has spoken out to defend the force’s use of stop and search powers after the county saw a spike in its use.

Assistant chief constable, Andy Prophet. Picture: ESSEX POLICEAssistant chief constable, Andy Prophet. Picture: ESSEX POLICE

According to figures published by the Home Office on Tuesday the use of stop and search powers across the country rose by 50% in the 12 months to March.

Under section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) police are allowed to search people and vehicles for things like drugs or a weapon without a warrant.

In Essex the use of stop and search powers under PACE jumped from 8,445 in 2018/19 to 19,248 in 2019/20 – an increase of 128%.

Meanwhile in Suffolk its use also rose, from 1,891 to 3,426.

Assistant chief constable Andy Prophet from Essex Police, said: “Stop and search is a valuable tool for the police to use to detect and prevent crime and help to keep communities safe.

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“However, we also understand it is an intrusive power to have and has a direct impact on individuals and communities. This is why we keep its use under continual review to ensure we are using it proportionately, professionally and legitimately.

“The confidence of our communities in the way we use our powers is incredibly important.

“Policing is a profession in which we are always learning, and we continue to seek the guidance and opinion of those in our Independent Advisory Groups, and key figures within our communities, to ensure that we are carrying out these searches in a proportionate way.

“The majority of our stop and search operations are led by community intelligence, or intelligence we’ve gained through other means. Teams like Operation Raptor, who work to disrupt drug dealing and county lines, and initiatives like Operation Sceptre, which tackles knife crime, will often use stop and search as an effective procedure to take drugs and weapons off of our streets and protect the public of Essex.

“Whenever we take part in stop and search operations, we ensure that our officers follow national guidance and legislation.

“We also invite members of the public to join officers on ride-a-longs and a scrutiny panel of members of the public who review stop and search forms and body-worn video footage and give feedback to the officers involved.

“Essex Police has also been rated as ‘good’ at treating the public with fairness and respect by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the independent body which regularly assesses forces.”


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