Northumbria Police increases use of 'stop search' powers

Police on Tyneside 'stops and searches' more frequently without records of an increase in crime.

Image Credit: CDE News
The use of ‘stop and search’ powers have been increased by police on Tyneside without seeing an increase in crime that would require the use of such powers.

According to Northumbria Police's lead for knife crime, Chief Superintendent Helena Barron there had been a "huge" increase in the use of the power during the last year. She also explained that staff were being encouraged to do so when there are grounds for suspicion of someone carrying a weapon, whatever their age.

There had been a "huge" increase in the use of the power during the last year

At the same time, she explained that the increase is happening within the law.

"We can't just go out and search people, we do have to have reasonable grounds and we have to act within the law when we stop and search people," she said.

The UK law gives the police the right to stop and search a member of the public if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect they are carrying a weapon, stolen property, illegal drugs, or an item that could be used in a crime.

However, Chief Supt Barron said that there has not been an increase in crime that would require the use of ‘stop and search’ powers.

"Part of it is because we are really pushing it as a force. It's not because we are necessarily seeing more crime that requires the use of this power, but we are really keen to support and encourage our staff to use this as a valid tactic to tackle the issues within our communities and make them safe and fundamentally that is what it is there for," she said.

‘Stop and search’ powers have simultaneously been pointed out as one of the problematic aspects of the relationship between police and minorities, especially black people. According to The Guardian, the majority of stops do not find anything, and black people are more likely to be targeted, without police officers’ ability to explain why.

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