Stop and searches double in first four months of 2018

Stop and searches have doubled across London
Stop and searches have doubled across London

Police carried out double the amount of borough-wide stop and searches in the first four months of this year than they did during the whole of last year.

New data shows that from January to April this year, there were 48 stop and searches across entire boroughs rather than one particular area in the borough.

This is compared to 18 which took place in the whole of 2017 alone.

Now Green Party London Assembly member Sian Berry is worried this is counterproductive and risks “alienating” people.

She said: “The more indiscriminate searches take place under these powers, the greater the risk of alienating people at a time when improving community relations with the police is vital.

“When police do borough-wide stop and searches they cover areas that are quite far from the actual incidents.”

Borough-wide stop and searches mean that anyone can be stopped by the police in a particular borough even if they are nowhere near the area a crime took place.

Originally, stop and searches were meant to cover smaller areas but have now been used in a blanket way over whole boroughs.

They are supposed to be well-advertised.

But Ms Berry raised concerns this is not happening enough after carrying out her own research.

She said: “Police are not putting up signs or telling residents about the stop and searches which means a lot of residents feel discriminated against because they don’t know what is happening when they are stopped and searched randomly.

“Borough police should be doing more to inform the public when these operations are happening, at the very least putting information on social media when a whole borough is covered.

“People should be informed that their normal rights have been suspended.

“The police are using stop and search to reassure people they are doing something, but they should only be putting it over the area they need to.”

The borough most affected by these stop and searches is Newham, where the powers were used 22 times from January to April this year.

Other boroughs that saw stop and searches issued over the whole of their boroughs include Camden, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Barnet, Waltham Forest and Enfield.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said the geographical location of stop and search will be justified based on the risks.

Decisions about whether to carry out stop-and-search operations are made by a commander and have to be signed off by a superintendent.

A spokesman said: “The geographical location will be defined and justified, based on the available intelligence and associated risk. On occasions this means the authority may be across whole boroughs or straddle borough boundaries.

“We also want the public to have confidence that we are doing all we can to tackle the worrying levels of violence we have seen this year in London and stop and search.”

Police officers wear body cameras, which monitoring groups are permitted to watch.

The Met says 19 per cent of all stop and searches end in an arrest, while a third a criminal justice outcome such as a caution.