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Wycombe MP welcomes stop-and-search reform
A PROPOSED reform of the stop-and-search procedure available to the police has been welcomed by MP Steve Baker.
The Wycombe MP said the Home Secretary’s proposals “will go a long way toward instilling confidence in the rule of law”.
An inquiry by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary found more than half of all police forces were ignoring the rules around stop and search, with black people seven times more likely to be stopped by officers than white people.
The HMIC report also found that in 27 percent of the searches analysed, officers did not appear to have “reasonable grounds” to stop the individual.
Theresa May MP has warned the police she would seek a change in the law if the number of searches were not cut – as she announced a “comprehensive package” of reform last month.
It included a revised code of practice to make it clear what constitutes “reasonable grounds for suspicion”, stop-and-search records to be opened up for public scrutiny and improved training and assessment of police officers.
In a blog on his website yesterday, Mr Baker wrote: “One of my guiding principles is equality under the law. For us all to live peaceably with each other we must feel that everyone is treated fairly by the police and judicial system.
“This is why it was good to see the Home Secretary has announced reforms to stop and search.
“In Wycombe, there are a large number of people from minority backgrounds.
"Official figures show that if you are from a non-white background you are up to six times more likely to be stopped by the police than if you are white...
“These proposals amount to a comprehensive package of reform. They should be welcomed.
“The Government is clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop-and-search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve, it will return with primary legislation to make these things happen.
“No one wants to hamper the arrest of genuine criminals but I believe these reforms will go a long way toward instilling confidence in the rule of law.”
As the BFP reported last month, figures show the number of stop-and-searches carried out in Wycombe had more than halved in four years.
Police stopped 1576 people last year and of those people stopped; 792 were white, 411 were from an Asian background and 161 were classed as black.
Superintendant Ed McLean, Wycombe’s Area Commander, said he was aware of the disproportionate number of Asian and African Caribbean men stopped in Wycombe.
He said his team was working hard to address concerns but was confident his officers are using their powers appropriately.
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