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Home Secretary supports Met Police Chief over potential rise in 'stop and search' to fight acid attacks, knife and gun crime

Amber Rudd said she will not 'shy away' from doing what is necessary to fight crime

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Wednesday 09 August 2017 09:00 BST
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A police officer undertakes a 'stop and search' in Liverpool
A police officer undertakes a 'stop and search' in Liverpool (Getty)

The UK’s most senior police officer an Home Secretary today heralded a potential rise in stop in search as they both threw their weight behind the power as a critical tool in the fight against street crime.

Met Police Chief Commissioner Cressida Dick said that she was ready to support her officers “if the number of stop and searches rise”.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said using the controversial power in an “indiscriminate way” would be a backwards step, but said she would support officers who used them on “reasonable grounds” in the face of rising knife and gun crime and the increasing prevalence of acid attacks.

Theresa May led a drive to lower stop and searches when at the Home Office, amid data showing they were disproportionately affecting black people.

But writing separate columns in The Times today both Ms Dick and Ms Rudd hailed stop and search as a useful policing tool in the face of what the Home Secretary said were “signs of a genuine rise in gun and knife crime”.

Ms Dick said: “We do stop people and search people when we have reasonable grounds to suspect they may be carrying knives, other weapons (eg acid) or drugs.

“About 20 per cent of searches result in an arrest, with weapons recovered in many cases. One third of searches in total have some kind of positive policing outcome, like a warning for carrying a small amount of drugs.

“This is an extremely important power when properly used.”

She added: “I will support my officers if the number of stop and searches rises in the fight against knife crime and street violence. I believe the vast majority of the public will too.”

Any change in the Home office’s current stand on stop and search is difficult for Ms Rudd, given it was set by Ms May who is now the Prime Minister.

The Home Secretary said that reforms made under Ms May had meant stop and search powers are more effective, with more arrests per stop. But acknowledging signs of rising gun and knife crime, she said she would not "shy away" from tackling it.

She wrote: “In London, the proportion of stops that result in an arrest has doubled since 2009-10. Police are targeting the right suspects better than ever before.

I want to be crystal clear — we have given the police the powers they need and officers who use stop and search appropriately, with reasonable grounds and in a targeted and intelligence-led way, will always have my full support.”

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