[MAC0012]

Written evidence submitted by Tony Als (MAC0012)

 

1. The problem with stop search is the Negative –V- Positive results Ratio; the ‘Hit Rate

2. It has become a default opinion by the public that a police stop and search is based on some negative stereotype or bias grounds. Despite you see searching, officers are genuinely reluctant to perform a search out of fear of being judged by the public and their supervisors. Every bad search seem to have a knock on effect

3. Communities would have more confidence in stop searches, if they had a say in how it was monitored and knew that bad searches were being picked up properly.

4. Officers confidence would increase too, if their search history met the expected community standard.

5. Innocent people who are searched become aggrieved knowing from the outset that it is going to be a negative search; a waste of time and an embarrassing experience. Every negative search creates negative community feelings and police community relations; even if the grounds were reasonable. So finding something is very desirable and reflects positively on police and community.

6. Therefore the solution is;

Creating community leaders who would be responsible for agreeing an acceptable hit rate; base on their opinions or community tensions, so at times of tensions it can be reduced or increased as required.

7. Police commanders can then use this ratio in stop search strategies i.e. S60 authorisations and for accountability;

8. If police get to many negative hits, their ratio goes down and they would then have to be much more focused / targeted / intelligence lead to bring that statistic back in line with the community ‘Hit Rate’  by getting more hits / positive results. That means fewer searches when their hit rate is low and more searches when their hit rate is high.

Example:

Community Leaders (CL) set ‘Hit Rate’ 50/100; to find object 50% of the searches.

              Scenarios:

  1. Police search 100 people get 10 hits
  2. Police search 100 people get 60 hits 

9. You can’t have a 100% hit rate as you might as well just arrest the person; searching happens because there is a degree of uncertainty of finding the object; base on personal observations coupled with information received or intelligence. This is why you need a hit rate ratio; those officers who consistently do bad searches with negative hit rates would be flagged up very early.

10. Hit Rate ‘would be a good marker for S60 search powers which results in too many negative hits; if there is tensions and S60 is being used but police hit ratio is negative then searches defer to more targeted and vis versa too many positive hits and the S60 carries on for longer.

11. Question is why not let the police decide the ratio. Well it is the community that is aggrieved when too many of that community is negatively searched. Therefore a community involvement is needed as they are well placed to sense tensions against police or crime and adjust the ratio accordingly.

12. Individual stats should be kept per officer so, they can gauge their performance against the plan / community leaders (CL) ‘Hit Rate’ and their supervisors can spot possible training issues easier.

Issues:

13. The community decides what level of stop search they want so if knife crime is rising or drug crime; communities could lower the hit rate. At this point the police would store the current stats and reset the officers to the new rate; the ratios can then be averaged to see the overall performance per officer or S60 strategy.

Example:

01/01/20 (CL) hit ratio 50%; 10 hits every 20 searches

01/06/20 following tension (CL) set 25% hit ratio; 5 hits every 20 searches

Averages;

 

14. If an officer didn’t do any searches their ratio will always remains at the (CL) rate.

15. Admin for stop searches are now religiously kept so adding this leer could be automatically calculated from existing procedures; no extra admin needed

16. This thinking would greatly reduce silly searches not based on good facts / suspicions, as negative hits counts against them and gives an additional measure to the supervisor who currently scrutinise the grounds for search alone. If supervisors are missing bad grounds for search this will still highlight the officer, however it does not check whether ground used were valid despite a positive hit; the assumption here is that not using proper grounds should lead to more negative searches.

I am a concerned citizen.

 

June 2020