Stop and search inspections

Part of: Police ethics and accountability Policing on the beat

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.

Stop and search revisit

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.

    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.