Stop and Search

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 12th November 2018.

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Photo of Afzal Khan Afzal Khan Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration) 3:38 pm, 12th November 2018

We have all read the reports that suggest that the Home Secretary is pressing for greater use of stop and-search powers and amending the grounds of reasonable suspicion that currently govern stop and search. Does the Minister agree that that is, in effect, a move to random stop and search not based on evidence? [Hon. Members: “No!”] Okay. Is the Minister aware that the current policy, which he wants to remove, was introduced by one of the Home Secretary’s predecessors, who is now Prime Minister, and that she made that reform of police stop-and-search powers based on evidence, not on chasing easy headlines? Has the Home Secretary bothered to examine that evidence?

The use of the stop-and-search scheme was announced by the then Home Secretary in a statement to Parliament on 30 April 2014. She stated that the principal aims of the scheme were to achieve greater transparency and community involvement in the use of stop-and-search powers, and to support a more intelligence-led approach, leading to better outcomes.

Is the Home Secretary aware of the very poor outcomes of the previous implementation of stop and search, and that the Home Office itself and the College of Policing, as well as Her Majesty’s inspector of constabulary, found that there were only 9% or 10% arrest rates from random stop and search? Does the Minister accept that this was a colossal waste of police resources? As a former police officer, I can tell him that that is the case. Is he aware that, according to his Department’s own research, black people are eight times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched, and Asian people are twice as likely?

Finally, intelligence-led stop and search does work. It is an important tool in the police arsenal. I am in favour of it. The Labour party is in favour of it. Random stop and search does not work, and the Minister has no evidence that it will. We do know, however, that it can poison community-police relations. Is he not trying to distract from the fact that knife crime is soaring under his Government, while they have cut 21,000 police officers?