Misusing stop and search can lead to formal disciplinary proceedings
How officers deal with stop and searches across England and Wales will change next week following moves by parliament. A revised version of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, Code A, will come into force on 19 March and includes amendments to the meaning of ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’ and emphasizes that the misuse of stop and search powers will lead to formal performance or disciplinary proceedings. The significant changes are in Sections 2 and 5, as well as note 1 in the notes for guidance. The revised code says that for reasonable grounds for suspicion, the officer must have formed a genuine suspicion in their own mind that they will find the object for which the search power being exercised allows them to search and that the object will be found must be reasonable. This means that there must be an objective basis for suspicion - facts, information and/or intelligence which are relevant to the likelihood that the object in question will be found, so that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts and information and/or intelligence. The revisions go on to say ‘All police officers must recognise that searches are more likely to be effective, legitimate and secure public confidence when their reasonable grounds for suspicion are based on a range of objective factors.’ The College of Policing is leading work examining the use of Stop Search powers. It will build an evidence base on stop and search and identify, review and develop relevant national training which incorporates unconscious bias and will produce revised Authorised Professional Practice. Stop and Search lead at the College of Policing, Inspector Nick Glynn, said: “The review will help to ensure that police officers at every level in the service – including those at senior ranks overseeing the use of the power - are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to conduct stop and search effectively, proportionately and fairly. “There are many areas of promising practice and the College will be sharing that across the country so that we see the changes needed to ensure that our communities are confident that these important powers are being used appropriately and where their use is necessary.” The latest College news on stop and search can be read online.