Supplementary written evidence submitted by Superintendent Edward Foster, West Midlands Police (MAC0049)

The latest Home Office statistics on stop and search state that with regard to forces’ use of Section 60 that, “West Midlands Police had an 85% decrease in the number of stop and searches under this power in the year to March 2020 (316, down from 2,041 in the previous year)”.

Would it be possible to provide the Committee with a short supplementary memo responding to the following questions where possible:

a) Why do you/or the relevant officer think that the number of S60 stops West Midlands Police Force conducted in the year ending March 2020 has dropped so significantly (by 85%) and;

b) How this reduction in the use of S60 aligns with West Midland Force’s policing strategy and;

c) If there is any evidence for the impact this drop in the force’s use of s60 has had on crime prevention and on community confidence, particularly BME confidence?

  1. In terms of the questions, the reason for the reduction in section 60 searches in the year 2019/20 in comparison to 2018/2019 is linked to the murder of three young males in Birmingham in February 2019. During February 2019 we had three young males aged 16 murdered in public places using a knife as the murder weapon, all were within Birmingham and all within 2 weeks. This fed into the national issues of knife crime with knife crime murders also occurring in London and Manchester, prompting the Home Secretary to meet with key police force Chief Constables to review the national approach. From a local and tactical perspective West Midlands Police conducted a number of sections 60s during February, March and into April. Thus 2018/2019 was the abnormal year with 2019/2020 coming back into our normal volume of section 60 usage. There is no information to say this had any impact on community confidence.

November 2020