A review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary reveals that over a quarter of stop-and-search cases were unjustified.
Police use stop-and-search powers on a day-to-day basis, but when exercising such power, they must record reasonable grounds for carrying out the search.
Reasonable grounds could include looking for a weapon or drugs, but they may also include the suspect’s behaviour or be based on information known to the police, such as a number of burglaries in the local area.
However, in its first review HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) examined 8,783 cases and found that, in 27% of those they looked at, either no grounds had been recorded at all, or the officer had entered a reason which would not justify a search, such as speeding.
HMIC warned that this could render ineffective the power given to police to conduct stop-and-search exercises and lead to a lack of public support for police. Approximately 1 million stop-and-searches take place each year, but it is believed that only 9% of these searches actually lead to an arrest.
The Government has now launched a public consultation on stop-and-search powers.
Being stopped and searched when officers have no reasonable grounds could amount to false detention for the period for which the suspect was detained, meaning that a complaint or civil action could be taken against the police in this regard.
If you believe you have an action against the police, please do not hesitate to contact Amy French of our Criminal Defence team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01494 450 171.