Stop and search changes for Sussex Police

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A TOP police officer has said stop and search powers must be used ‘appropriately’ after Sussex signed up to a new scheme to boost transparency.

On Tuesday (August 26), the force announced it was taking part in a voluntary government scheme to cut down on the number of stop searches in a bid to make them more open.

Assistant chief constable Robin Smith said: “Stop and search is an important tool which helps us to prevent crime and I am absolutely determined that this power is used appropriately in Sussex.

“In taking part in this scheme I am confident we will be making the best use of this police power and, in turn, building trust and confidence with the public and communities we serve.”

Sussex Police has signed up, along with other forces, to the government’s Best Use of Stop and Search scheme, designed to boost transparency and accountability.

Home secretary Theresa May said ‘nobody wins’, when stop and search powers are misused.

“It can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police,” she said.

She went on to say: “That is why I am delighted Sussex 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.”

All 43 forces in the UK signed up to the voluntary government scheme, with Sussex one of 24 implementing data recording and ‘no-suspicion’ measures.

From Tuesday (August 26), Sussex Police started recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there was a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome.

Data from the scheme will be published online at ‘in due course’.

Additionally, the force said it would also restrict the use of section 60 ‘no suspicion’ powers.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “Already used only when necessary, under this scheme, a chief officer must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers.

“In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence ‘will’ rather than ‘may’ take place, as it stands now.

The spokeswoman added: “By November, Sussex Police will fully comply with the scheme by giving members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice; and introducing a community complaints trigger.”

The Home Office has also launched an eight-week consultation on the code governing the police’s use of stop and search.