Police sign up to new conduct code
5:30am Wednesday 27th August 2014 in By Dominic Gilbert
POLICE will attempt to rebuild confidence in stop and search methods with a new code of conduct for all officers.
Wiltshire Police joined all other forces nationwide in signing up to the new guidance, which aims to increase transparency and improve the procedures.
Section 60 stop and search powers are often the most controversial as officers do not require reasonable grounds for suspicion.
But they are now to be revised so that authorisation for a stop and search may only be given by inspectors or higher ranking officers, and only when it is thought necessary to prevent a certainty of violence.
The introduction of lay observation will allow members of the public to routinely see stop and search in action to fully understand the process and method.
Officers will now have to record every stop and search in greater detail, including the grounds for doing so and its outcome.
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson said: “This should not be an intrusive power. It is being used proportionately in Wiltshire and it should remain that way.
“The important thing is that the figures reflect a positive reduction in crime as a result of the action we take.
We will also be looking to increase the lay observation to enable members of the public to see that this power is being used proportionately.
“My job is to ensure the public and the police act as one and that the actions of the police have the support of the public.”
Figures which emerged this year following a review of Wiltshire Police’s procedures showed almost of of all people subjected to stop and search powers in the area last year were under 25 and of 6,000 peole searched just five formal complaints were lodged.
Alex Marshall, the chief executive of the College of Policing, said: “Stop and search powers are necessary to help us tackle crime and keep people safe but it is clear that they are being misused too often. This can leave resentment in our communities and hinder our ability to prevent crime.
“Every police force in England and Wales has today committed to the best use of stop and search scheme to improve the way we use these important powers.
“Under this scheme search outcomes will be recorded in detail so we have a greater understanding of how the powers are being used.
“Searches which do not require reasonable grounds of suspicion will reduce and communities will havepowers to question police over their use of stop and search.
“There are many areas of good practice where stop and search has reduced, the quality of encounter has gone up and arrest ratios increased.”
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