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Express & Star comment: How stop and search can help

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Stop and search can be an effective tool for crime prevention and detection if it is used properly.

And while the policy will always have its critics, it is alarming to see that West Midlands Police are in almost celebratory mood over an 80 per cent drop in its use.

From 2011 the force has made a concerted effort to decrease the use of what Chief Superintendent Chris Todd refers to as 'intrusive powers'.

He says that at the time, on more than one quarter of occasions the force's use of stop and search would have been deemed unlawful.

Meanwhile the region's Labour police and crime commissioner David Jamieson says that despite the reduction in stop and search, the number of arrests has gone up.

For many people all of this will make little sense.

Regardless of the force's stop and search policy, you would expect a significant rise in the number of arrests, considering the fact that crimes across the region is off the charts.

The real issue seems to be that on too many occasions the police have not adhered to their own guidelines regarding its use.

Is the problem that officers have not been effectively trained in stop and search, rather than the system itself being flawed?

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Yet again, the nation's police forces appear to have been cowed into relegating a technique that does not meet the politically correct standards set by the metropolitan elite.

Rather than heading towards a scenario where it is ditched completely, the police should perhaps have been focusing their attentions on getting better at it.

With the rapid rise of knife crime in the West Midlands, stop and search should be a vital tool in enabling police officers to catch criminals.

We are not calling for a return to targeted stop and search, which has almost certainly damaged relations between the public and the police.

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But officers should not be deterred from using the tactic when they deem it appropriate.

When used in an intelligence-led way, stop and search can be a major power in the fight against crime.

The focus of the police must always be to prevent crime and protect the public.

To do those things, officers need every possible tool available to them.

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