Stop and search is a crucial tool, as we all agree. Its normal usage is based on intelligence around a crime or a potential crime, based on proper suspicion, and applied for the right reasons. In our country, we use stop and search with suspicion to look for weapons, drugs and stolen property. Under particular circumstances, we use suspicionless stop and search—a section 60, as we call it—to search people without suspicion when a weapon has been used, or where there is good reason to believe there will be a serious violence incident. The Government are introducing suspicionless stop and search for potential protests, an overreach of the law that the police have not asked for and which pushes the balance of rights and responsibilities away from the British public.
Yesterday, we debated Baroness Casey’s report into the Metropolitan police. It is an excoriating report that, among much else, calls for a fundamental reset in how stop and search is used in London. I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister today accept all the findings and recommendations in the report. The report states:
“Racial disparity continues in stop and search in London. This has been repeatedly confirmed in reports and research. Our Review corroborates these findings.”
It is ironic that the day after the report was published the Government are trying to pass laws that risk further damaging the relationship between the police and the public by significantly expanding stop and search powers way beyond sensible limits.