Response to report on the use of stop and search powers
12 June 2012
YOU MAY be aware of media reports of disproportionality in West Midlands Police's use of stop and search powers.
The reports were prompted by a paper issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today (Tuesday 12 June).
West Midlands Police is committed to ensuring that all stops and searches are conducted ethically, impartially and objectively and that those stopped and searched are treated with courtesy, consideration and respect.
In response to the EHRC report, the force has issued the following statement:
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: "West Midlands Police has fully co-operated with the EHRC throughout its scrutiny of the use of stop and search powers, and will continue to do so.
"The use of stop and search is a valuable tool in protecting communities, and its use is widely supported in the West Midlands, however, the force is not complacent about the potential mistrust that can arise from perceived discrimination in the way the powers are applied.
"We believe that a well explained and sensitively conducted stop and search can help demonstrate to communities that police are actively tackling crime in their neighbourhood.
"With this in mind, our powers in relation to stop and search are closely scrutinised at a local level by the independent West Midlands Police Authority which represents the communities we serve. In addition, local people also sit on a number of community panels to assess our use of stop and search; we want them to understand the data we produce and to be able to hold us to account about how we use it.
"This report is focussed solely on one particular power - section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.
"This power is used to tackle the risk of serious criminality in a particular area when there is credible intelligence to suggest an immediate threat to the public.
"Authorisation to use this power must be obtained from a senior police officer with extensive knowledge of the area, the imminent threat and the offender profile. For instance, section 60 powers were used across the region to great effect during the disorder in August."
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