Stop and search inspections

Part of: Police ethics and accountability Policing on the beat

February 2021: Disproportionate use of police powers – A spotlight on stop and search and the use of force

Summary

Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, we have found that no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers.

When the police use their powers disproportionately – in differing proportions on different ethnic groups – it causes suspicion among some communities that they are being unfairly targeted.

This can undermine police legitimacy, which is a fundamental aspect of the British model of policing by consent.

For some, particularly Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people, it can reinforce the perception that there is a culture of discrimination within the police. And, now that we have some long-awaited data on the police use of force, similar concerns are arising about this area of practice.

This report sets out our findings.

Get the report

Disproportionate-use-of-police-powers-spotlight-on-stop-search-and-use-of-force (PDF document, 1016 kB)

Get the press release

Police must show stop & search and use of force is fair or risk losing public trust

March 2015: Stop and search powers 2: are the police using them effectively and fairly?

In 2014, we carried out a revisit inspection into the progress made by forces since our 2013 stop and search report. This inspection would also address the Home Secretary’s new commission to examine the way the police use powers to stop motor vehicles and strip search people.

Get the report

Stop and search powers 2: are the police using them effectively and fairly?

Get the press release

Police forces failing to understand the impact of stop and search

Get the force reports

Stop and search 2 force reports

Survey by YouGov

As part of this inspection we examined the use of the Road Traffic Act power to stop motor vehicles, and the impact on the people who were stopped. None of the 43 police forces had done an audit on whether this power was being used fairly and effectively. Because of this, we commissioned YouGov to ask over 10,000 people in an online survey. The results suggest that black and minority ethnic drivers are:

  • more likely to be stopped,
  • more likely not to be given a reason for the stop, and
  • more likely to have their vehicle searched.

For further information please see the methodology annex in the report or view the survey data.

July 2013: Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?

The summer riots of 2011 once again focused attention on the way police use stop and search powers. Because of this, in December 2011 the Home Secretary commissioned us to carry out an inspection into the use of stop and search legislation by police forces in England and Wales.

The objectives for the inspection were to:

  • determine how effectively and fairly the police service is using the powers of stop and search in the fight against crime;
  • establish whether operational police officers know how to use stop and search powers tactically as part of evidence-based practice to fight crime; and
  • identify how the powers can be used in a way that builds public trust in the police, supporting the legitimacy of the service rather than eroding it.

In our report, ‘Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?’, we found that police use of stop and search powers is too often ineffective in tackling crime and procedurally incorrect. This threaten the legitimacy of the police.

Get the report

Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?

Get the press release

Press release for ‘Stop and Search Powers: Are the police using them effectively and fairly?’

We made a commitment in the 2013 report to revisit the police use of stop and search powers to assess the progress made against the recommendations in our report.

More about stop and search

The College of Policing’s website has of information about stop and search, including pages about evidence and research and the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.