Stop and search a ‘vital tool’ against knife crime, says policing minister

Policing minister Chris Philp has called on forces to increase the use of stop and search as part of a “robust approach” to tackle knife crime.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Philp described stop and search as a “vital tool” which is “not used nearly often enough”.

“The police must use the powers available to them without fear or favour,” he wrote ahead of a week of action on knife crime.

“I want to see them take a robust approach and this starts with increasing the use of stop and search.

“It’s illegal to be in possession of a knife in public without reasonable excuse and stop and search is the best way to enforce this.”

The use of stop and search was reduced after then home secretary Theresa May curbed powers amid fears black people were disproportionately targeted, restrictions which have been eased.

In December, an investigation into the use of so-called suspicion-less section 60 stop and search powers by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the College of Policing (CoP) found forces may “recognise the effects of disproportionality on people and communities” but “don’t take this matter seriously enough”.

“In today’s climate, police stop and search is the best foot forward, we know this,” said Mr Philp.

“What we can’t do is tiptoe around using these powers in an aim to appease. The first priority must always be prevention and public safety.

“Of course, we need safeguards in place to ensure these powers are used appropriately.

Sir Mark Rowley in conversation with Sir Trevor Phillips
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (PA)

Saying stop and search had led to almost 300,000 arrests since 2019, he welcomed Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley’s commitment to increase its use and called on other forces to follow suit.

“I want to see this commitment on a national level,” he said. “We should leave people in no doubt that carrying a knife is a criminal offence and could lead to up to four years in prison.

“I want to assure the public that we’ve updated the safeguards on stop and search to strengthen trust between the police and local communities.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –