HMIC’s Inspection of Stop and Search

The HMIC’s Inspection of stop and search was published on 9th July.

This is a very good report and the HMIC promised to return to this issue within the next 18 months.

  • As a summary of the inspection report: the HMIC inspected stop and search usage in all 43 police forces in England and Wales with a key focus on leadership and standards, legitimacy and fairness, and the ability to use it according to an evidence based approach. The HMIC expressed concerns over ‘worrying gaps’ at frontline supervision of those powers and the lack of effectiveness of its use. The inspection report highlighted how the reduction of ‘bureaucracy’ in policing had led to less knowledge about these powers than before because less information was being recorded. To address this, it called for the recording of whether the object of the search was found for which it argued was central to measuring effectiveness (p.38).The HMIC also stated that PCCs have a crucial role to play in scrutinising stop and search use (p.34).They concluded that “with a few exceptions, forces were not able to demonstrate an approach to using stop and search powers that was based upon a foundation of evidence of what works best to fight crime. A good example of this was that we found little evidence that police leaders were focusing stop and search activity towards priority crimes in their areas” (p.47). The inspection report seemed to be dismissive of powers that lacked reasonable suspicion as a general principle. The HMIC proposed 10 recommendations (pp.9-10) and said it would return to this to monitor progress within 18 months.

Read report: Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?