Extending stop-and-search powers for police is a grave mistake

Editorial: Indiscriminate stop and search, as proposed by the prime minister, undermines the founding policing principle of consent

Tuesday 27 July 2021 21:30

Boris Johnson proposes to widen police powers to stop and search people on the street, removing the need to even demonstrate any “reasonable grounds” to question a free citizen as they go about their business.

Normally so jubilantly libertarian, the prime minister has, with all the constancy of the wobbly shopping trolley he’s so often compared to, veered off in an authoritarian direction again. Yesterday, he described stop and search as “kind and loving”, while calling for those guilty of antisocial behaviour to be “out there in one of those fluorescent-jacketed chain gangs visibly paying your debt to society”.

The prime minister is in a corner politically, with his party’s lead over Labour dropping, and Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions, pursuing a Tony Blair-style “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” agenda. And so the metaphorical truncheon is drawn from Johnson’s belt, ready to start another culture war.

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