Shouldthe police be allowed to stop and search? This question has been widely debatedfor many years, and a conclusion needs to be reached. In this essay, I willdiscuss the many views on the law of stop and search, and eventually reach afair justification, closing this controversial argument once and for all. However, before we begin analysing the sources, I must explain: what is ‘ stop andsearch?’.
Stop and search laws were first introduced in The Police and CriminalEvidence Act 1994. In order to stop and search someone, the police must have ajustified reason as to why they have done this. There have been many argumentsabout whether stopping and searching people is right, as it is closely linkedwith discrimination and racism. There have been several riots protestingagainst this and police have been told constantly to reduce the amount theystop and search unless it is an emergency. The amount of stopping and searchinghas reduced from 1.
2 million searches a year to 386, 474 searches, but it stillhappens, for necessary reasons or for purportedly racial reasons. Even thoughthe number has fallen, there is still a large disputation, and therefore, thisessay will come to a closure on this issue. Inthe first source I have to analyse (Source 1 from The Independent), the personinterviewed feels like stop and search needs to be abolished, and is againstit. The source lets us take an insight into a man’s life.
He runs a dramaworkshop, and in a particular activity, he asked a boy to put his hands to hisface and sit down. He then asked the group what they can see. Many childreninferred and said that “ he is depressed” or “ his mum and dad broke up”. However, these were all wrong. The simple answer was in fact “ there is a boysitting down with his face in his hands”. This simple activity depicts thedaily lives of the police force. Every day they have to put aside and lock awaytheir feelings and instead use their logic to inspect and see whether a personposes a threat to others or not.
Despite this rule being in place, black peopleare seven times more likely to be stopped by police than white people. Is thisa coincidence? I think not. Stop and search is the reason why black people havesuch wariness around police, and black people feel humiliated by it.
Inaddition, stop and search has a 9% success rate. If it is so low, why is itstill in place? There is not a point, other than having a repugnant obsessionwith shaming black people. Thesecond source I have to evaluate (Source 2 from a blog post) is against stopand search.
It explains how effective stop and search at detecting anddeterring crime. In the “ detecting crime” section, it tells us about thecontradicting views of the Metropolitan Police and other parts of society. TheMetropolitan Police believe that by reducing the amount that police stop andsearch, it has increased the amount of crime on streets. Furthermore, theythink that it is a fair way of allowing the police to detect crime, withoutactually arresting them. Statistics in this source tell us that the arrest ratehas dropped from 13% in 2003-4 to only 9% in 2009-12. The overall arrest rate –which is persistently lower than 15% – tells us that indeed, stop and searchis, in reality, not an effective way of detecting crime.
The arrest rate alsodepends on what the reason of arrest is. For example: 20% of people who weresearched on the suspicion of carrying an offensive weapon were arrested, but incontrast, a mere 9% of people accused for having drugs on them were arrested. In the “ detecting crime” section, it informs us of a project that took place in2008 called “ Operation Blunt 2”. It tried to prevent the amount the crime ratein London, so as a first attempt at succeeding at this task, they increased thestop and search rate by a significant amount. Unfortunately, by doing this, there was instead a 300% increase in crime! These two factors both go to showhow ineffective stop and search actually is and gives two valid reason why itshould be abolished.
Thethird source (Source 3 from The Telegraph) is a source that has mixed opinionson the law of stop and search. It is an article by someone called PhilipJohnson. His opinion is that the chances that you will be stopped and searcheddepends on your skin colour, age and clothing, for example: you are more likelyto get stopped by police if you are a young, black person wearing a hoodierather than a middle-class white man.
Also, in the article, it provides notonly his insight, but also Theresa May and the Tories. The Tories believe thatthey understand the feelings of the black and ethnic minority voters. Theythink that our main priority is for us and our kids to be safe on the streets, and that is their reason for having so many police officers on the streets. Butthis is wrong. Yes, we want safety, but not only from criminals, but the policeforce themselves. However, in the second section of the article, he makes acontradictory point. He states that the figures that imply that stop and searchis more common in black and ethnic are incorrect. Official facts tell us thatblack people are 37 times more likely to get stopped, but he says that blackand people of the ethnic minorities were stopped 57% of the time, whilst whitepeople were the other 43%.
This does not suggest that the police use stop andsearch disproportionately. Thefourth source that I am analysing (Source 4 from BBC News) says that the dropin police stop and search is causing the higher amount of knife crime. Previously, knife crime in the city rose by 16% whilst stop and searchdecreased by 41%. The people of the black communities feel that the police areout to get them, however, BBC News disagrees with this. They think that thesepeople are thinking irrationally and need to think logically. The police do notintend to be racist, but they feel that every time they stop someone who is notthe same race of them, they are being racist. The police feel that they need toescape from this mentality and that the police officers are just doing theirjob and don’t want to be branded “ racist”.
Thefifth source that I am evaluating (Source 5 from The Evening Standard) is forstop and search, but doesn’t give reasons to do with law, but the psychologicalmind-set of the police force. It says that stop and search rules should be inplace, but rather than police using them ineffectively, they are actuallyafraid to use them in case they get accuse of being judgemental towardsparticular people. A Met Commissioner stated last year that the increase inknife crime is due to the minute amount of stopping and searching because thecriminals feel like there is a small chance of getting caught. Thelast source that I will evaluate is from a website called Equality HumanRights. It says that stop and search is very effective and necessary. It saysthat the ‘ evidence’ we see that proves that the police are using stop andsearch ineffectively is truly false, and there is other, more reliable evidencethat proves that by not stopping and searching people that could be a threat tous, the crime levels in Britain would rise greatly. Staffordshire and Clevelandpolice show that when police abilities are used correctly they can be veryhelpful in finding criminal roaming the streets. Inconclusion, I agree with the first three sources.
In other words, I believethat stop and search needs to be abolished. By allowing this to happen, thepolice force is becoming a breeding ground for judgemental and racist people. Society today should trust, and not be afraid of the police, but due to all thereports we hear about black people being killed by them, we become weary. Iunderstand that it is human nature to feel naturally protective your race, butin order to stop and search people, this nature needs to be nurtured into anaccepting mind. In order to stop and search people, they need to be judged bytheir appearance, and isn’t that being prejudice? It is teaching people to nottrust anyone and it is ruining society today. The damage done is already toohard to repair, but we can try our best to help it as best as we can.
And thefirst step to doing this is abolishing stop and search – a deed that shouldhave been done decades ago.