Police stop and search orders slashed


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The Independent Online

Controversial stop and searches are set to plunge as Britain's biggest police force bids to improve relations with the black community.

Scotland Yard Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe described random searches as "a real challenge" for the force amid figures which show more than 90% fail to lead to arrest.

Section 60 orders, which permit random stop and searches across wide areas, are set to be cut by half, the force said.

"The aim is to decrease the number of times senior officers grant authority for stop and searches," a spokesman added.

"It could be that there are just as many stops but they'll be more effective."

Chiefs have outlined targets to halve the number of times they fail to find drugs during searches. In addition, officers want to increase the rate of arrest to 20% from 6%.

Debate has raged for years among politicians, police and communities over the success of the searches.

Critics say it alienates young people in ethnic minority communities, while supporters say the tactic is a deterrent to rising youth violence and teenage murders.

The Metropolitan Police spokesman added: "Last year, there were 1,753 Section 60 authorities.

"Within these 1,753 authorities, there were around 51,000 searches.

"If we raise the threshold for a Section 60, we might not necessarily see fewer searches.

"It could be that there's a stronger case to do a S60 authority and in that authority, we do search more people.

"It is the number of authorities that is being targeted."

Mr Hogan-Howe has signed off "implementation of a new approach which will see a dedicated, experienced central team lead a wide range of changes affecting every element of stop and search with the aim of improving policy, practice and performance across the board", the force added.

"This new approach will see a renewed focus on reducing violence, as this is one of the key issues communities tell us they want us to tackle, as well as an enhancement of our intelligence-led targeting," a statement said.

"We will aim to be more effective by increasing positive outcomes across key categories from arrest rates to seizures of weapons."