Northamptonshire Police has signed up to a scheme that will result in a “significant reduction” in the use of stop and search.
Under the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, the county force is now recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome.
Northamptonshire Police will also be restricting the use of Section 60 “no suspicion” powers, which are only used on rare occasions under the authorisation of a senior officer.
Under the new scheme, the chief officer must reasonably believe that violence “will” rather than “may” take place, as it stands now.
However, the majority of stop searches are carried out under section one of Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act 1973 and these will continue if an officer has “reasonable grounds to suspect” that an individual has the prohibited item in their possession.
By November, Northamptonshire Police will fully comply with the new Best Use of Stop and Search scheme by giving members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice and introducing a community complaints trigger.
In total, 43 police forces in England and Wales have signed up to the scheme.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.
“That is why I am delighted Northamptonshire Police will from today reform their use of stop and search powers under the new Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. It will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used and help local communities hold the police to account for their use of the powers.
Superintendent Andy Cox from Northamptonshire Police said: “Stop search can be a very useful tool, helping to reduce crime and make our communities safer. But we recognise that it can be a contentious tactic and can affect public confidence in policing.
“Northamptonshire Police has worked hard to improve the way it handles stop and search, however, we know there is more we can do and we welcome the opportunity to be part of the new Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.”
Data on stop and search is now available on data.police.uk. The additional information which forces will capture as a result of the Scheme will be published on this website in the next few months.