Thames Valley Police comments on stop and search 'disingenuous' says police efficacy campaigner

Thames Valley Police (TVP) have said in a public statement that their increased use of stop and search powers has been “impactful in further disrupting serious violence and those who look to carry it out.”

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 11:03 am
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 11:04 am

Between April 2019 and December 2019, TVP say they executed 10,305 stop and searches, an increase of 76.3% from the same period the previous year.

The Bucks Herald asked Thames Valley Police how they knew that their stop and search policy was proving effective in tackling violent crime.

A spokesperson replied: “Our officers who have carried out these searches are satisfied that the increased powers given to them have been successful and have had an impact in lowering crime."

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Home Office crime figures for year ending September 2019 against the previous period in the Thames Valley area show that violent crime has increased by 18% and possession of weapons offences have increased by 16%.

A TVP spokesperson added: “Last year we ran three County Lines Intensification Weeks, designed to combat County Lines Activity. Throughout these, stop checks were used. During these four weeks, as a result of stop and search, as well as other intelligence led police activity, 248 people were arrested, 4,665 drug wraps were seized, 62 weapons were seized, and £201,992 in cash was seized.”

It's not clear how much of this was a direct result of stop and search checks or how many were undertaken to achieve the results.

We spoke to Katrina Ffrench, the Chief Executive of StopWatch who campaign for effective and accountable policing, about Thames Valley Police's statement. She said to us: “It's very concerning that officers' perceptions of success are being used to measure performance. Rather than using the perception of officers, one should be looking at empirical data. This needs to be robustly analysed. It's very disingenuous to say this to the community without any quantitative information to back it up.”

Stop and search has long since been controversial. Although many senior officers, including Thames Valley Police lead officer for serious violence, Superintendent Stan Gilmour, are convinced stop and search is effective, the research is inconclusive and the disproportionate use of the tactic against black and Asian men has been blamed for fuelling tensions.

The latest Home Office figures show that in 2018/19 black people were almost ten times more likely to be stopped than white people across the whole of England and Wales under stop and search powers.

During the recent General Election campaign, Boris Johnson pledged to extend stop and search powers.