Stop and search could increase knife crime, College of Police warns police forces

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Stop and search may increase knife crime, the College of Policing has told forces as it warned the controversial tactic could push young people towards violence.

A research briefing on the causes of street violence has been given to police in England and Wales at a time when knife attacks have reached epidemic levels.

The police standards body acknowledged there was “consistent evidence” that stop and search helped reduce crime, but suggested the benefit may only be short term.

If an individual felt they had been unfairly stopped by officers, it could increase the risk they later consider violence, the report said.

The intervention comes only weeks after Home Secretary Sajid Javid bolstered police stop and search powers to help prevent stabbings.

Richard Cooke, the chairman of the West Midlands Police Federation, dismissed the College of Police’s suggestion as “detached from reality”, adding: “Let’s deal in facts and not people’s feelings.”

In its official briefing, which brings together a host of academic research, the College of Policing said: “While intelligence helps the targeting of stop and search, people’s willingness to provide information is likely to be affected by how fair they perceive the police to be in their use of this power.

“Young people, the economically disadvantaged, and people from some minority ethnic groups are significantly more likely to be stopped, and to be dissatisfied with police treatment during a stop.

“If contact with officers is felt to be unfair, analysis also suggests it can undermine young people’s perception that the police are ‘on their side’, reducing their willingness to comply with the law, and is associated with increased risk that they consider violence to be an option in achieving certain goals.”

Stop and search powers allow police to pull aside individuals and vehicles if an officer reasonably believes serious violence may occur.

As many as 80% of all arrests by the Metropolitan Police for possessing an offensive weapon have stemmed from a stop and search, previous research has suggested.



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