Stop and Account Form

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 27th June 2005.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Conservative, Tunbridge Wells 2:30 pm, 27th June 2005

What assessment he has made of the impact of the new stop and account form for police officers since its introduction; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

The requirement to record stops, as per recommendation 61 of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report, was implemented by all police forces across England and Wales on 1 April 2005. We have asked that the process by which the police deliver that level of accountability should continue to be monitored so that if there are any ways to increase efficiency, such as through the use of IT, they are acted upon.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Conservative, Tunbridge Wells

Is the Minister aware that it takes four minutes to fill in one of those forms, which means that it takes 20 minutes if a police officer is to stop a group of, say, five people? Does he agree that that 20 minutes is time away from policing the street, and is that not a great disincentive to the sort of active community policing that our constituencies need?

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

No, I am afraid that I do not. Part of the route to community policing lies precisely through the sort of intelligence gathering, accountability and other forms of activity that are exemplified in the stop and account process. The hon. Gentleman cannot have one without the other; they are all of a piece with community policing.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

While my hon. Friend is collating the monitoring of the record on stops, will he take into account how much time is saved by speedily settling complaints made against the police, often maliciously, because of the very fact that the police can produce a record that demonstrates their reasons for a stop? Is not that a good way to save police time and unnecessary attacks on good police officers?

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

My hon. Friend is entirely right. We have to view all aspects of the impact of stop and account forms on policing. My earlier point about IT is equally important: one of the pilots in the North Wales force has meant that almost 70 per cent. of stops were carried out in under three minutes, notwithstanding the time saved in the way that my hon. Friend suggests.

Photo of Lynne Featherstone Lynne Featherstone Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Have the Government any plans to introduce religious self-definition alongside self-definition of race in regard to recommendation 61?

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

It is certainly a matter that we have already considered. The hon. Lady will know that it is sensitive and that we keep it constantly under review. As I said in my initial response, there has been nationwide implementation only since April, although some forces implemented it before that—indeed, in Kent it was in place by February. The system has been in place for about three months and we shall constantly take stock. The hon. Lady will understand that these are controversial and sensitive matters.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Is not the Minister worried that increasing bureaucracy and political correctness are inhibiting police officers from dealing effectively with some worrying offences, whether vandalism, property destruction or even violence at a local or individual level? Is he not even more worried that that is beginning to affect public confidence in the police? If we cannot restore proper effectiveness to our police at local and ground level, that loss of confidence will, sadly, continue.

Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Immigration, Citizenship and Nationality), Home Office

The right hon. Gentleman based his question on about four premises, all of which are in one way or another flawed. The whole purpose of the project is to reinvigorate the faith and confidence of communities in our police forces. It is being done in a way that minimises bureaucracy. It might be a nice cheap Daily Mail headline to talk about police political correctness, but it is not a fact and the right hon. Gentleman should be ashamed of his simplicity.