Best Use of Stop & Search

Dorset Police voluntarily signed up to the Home Office's Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme in August 2014.

The scheme aims to help significantly reduce the overall use of stop and search, deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search, and improve stop-to-arrest ratios.

Features of the scheme include

By signing up to the scheme, Dorset Police commits to refining and reducing its strategic use of section 60 ‘no-suspicion’ stop and searches.

Section 60 Stop and Searches

If a senior officer (Assistant Chief Constable or above) believes people may be carrying weapons or causing serious violence in a particular area, temporary powers may be authorised under section 60 (S60) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

This means anyone in that area (near a football ground, for example) may be searched for weapons without the police officer having reasonable grounds for each person searched.

Where an S60 has been granted, police officers have the power to stop and search individuals for offensive weapons or dangerous instruments. They may require the removal of certain items of clothing.

Under the Home Office’s Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, Dorset police will:

Ensure that section 60 stop and search is only used where it is deemed necessary – and making this clear to the public

In anticipation of serious violence, the authorising officer must reasonably believe that an incident involving serious violence will take place

Limit the duration of initial authorisations to no more than 15 hours (down from 24)

Where practical, give advance notice to local communities that there will be a section 60 authorisation. Report on it afterwards so the public is aware of the purpose and success of the operation.

 

Details of S60 Authorisations

In the event that Dorset Police issues a Section 60 authorisation, details will be listed here.

Police offers people the opportunity to ride along with police officers on patrol in order to observe their work first-hand.

Dorset Police is proud to offer people the opportunity to accompany officers out on patrol.

The lay observation scheme is open to people living in Dorset who are aged 16 and above. It is a valuable opportunity for you to see a range of policing techniques in action. These may include arrests, how we deal with offenders and victims, statement taking, questioning and stop and searches.

Requests to ride along with an officer in your local area will be accommodated wherever possible as we recognise the value in getting to know your local policing teams better.

Lay observation scheme participants must attend a safety briefing prior to going out on patrol. They will have to follow the instructions of the officer they’re accompanying at all times and wear a high visibility observer jacket.

 

Interested?

Dorset Police is committed to being as transparent as possible about its work and the lay observation scheme is one way to help us achieve this.

It also forms part of our commitment to the Home Office's Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (see link below).

Please complete an application form (part of the Patrol Observer Policy). 

 

Case study by Monique Munroe

I was asked to be at the station for 6.30pm on a Friday evening and was met by Sergeant Stuart Greenwood. He ran through some paper work and explained I’d be going out with PC Carly Gow and PC David Rae for the first part of the evening.

I had adrenaline - rather than blood - pumping through my veins, and that was before we’d even left the police station!

I was kitted out with a stab vest, hi-vis jacket and radio and given user instructions. We went to find a missing person and also to see if we could spot a car which had been involved in an incident earlier on.

Our searches took us across Poole. We stopped and the PCs got out to speak to officers who were involved in the missing person case. I stayed in the vehicle, where voices from the radio kept me company. We didn’t spot the vehicle, but fortunately the missing person was found safe and well and we returned to the station.

I then went out with PC Gareth Morris and PC Zach Dredge on a ‘flash’ job (high priority), to deal with some uninvited ‘guests’ at a party. 

The officers put their blues on. I’d never been in a police car until that point and certainly never in a vehicle with a siren and blue light on, so I was surprised how ‘quiet’ it was inside.

By the time we arrived at the party the uninvited ‘guests’ had gone. They’d obviously found somewhere dry and warm as it was raining, so we followed up on a stolen vehicle before we were given another ‘flash’ job. A supermarket alarm had been triggered, which proved to be false.

Our next job was to search an area for the car we’d looked for earlier, as further information had been received. 

I was struck by how difficult it was to see house numbers in the dark, even with the aid of the side search lights on the vehicle.

Later, another ‘flash’ job came through. This time a burglary - and a description of the vehicle involved. 

We sped off. A vehicle matching the description of the getaway car drove past us. We pursued it, but unfortunately lost it as it disappeared down a very convenient short cut through an industrial estate. After an extensive search of the area we spent more time following up potential owners of similar vehicles in the hope of finding the culprit.

We returned to the station. I handed over my equipment and said my farewells at 1.30am - a lot wiser and more knowledgeable about the work the police do. 

I had no idea so much of their time is taken up with helping vulnerable people, including domestic violence work or looking for missing people, as well as tackling crime, be it how difficult it is finding property numbers in the dark. 

I view my experience as a privilege: a privilege to have been out with such a dedicated and professional team of police officers.

I would encourage anyone from the community to take part in the scheme and see first-hand how the police operate and the challenges they face.

Monique works as a volunteer for a local charity and edits the Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch newsletter.

To ensure Dorset Police is fully accountable for its actions, a community complaint will be triggered if there is a significant increase in public concern about our use of stop and search.

A community complaint can be triggered if Dorset Police receives a significant rise in concerns from the public about its use of Stop & Search.

Examples include:

  • There is a rise in the amount of stop & search related complaints against Police. NB every complaint against Police in relation to stop search encounters will be considered as a standing agenda at every set Panel meeting.
  • There is a significant change in proportionality of those that are subject of stop & search BME likelihood to be subject of stop & search compared to white. 
  • A single event or incident related to stop & search activity that is giving significant cause for concern amongst our communities regarding police use of this tactic. 
  • Any other issue upon consultation with the Dorset Police Lead for stop & search. 

In the event that a community complaint is triggered, the Stop & Search Community Scrutiny Panel will investigate.

Dorset Police has established a local scrutiny panel that will hold the force to account on any stop and search issues. The members of this panel will reflect and represent the diverse communities of Dorset.

The Force Stop & Search Scrutiny Panel sits at least quarterly and is made up of a diverse range of stakeholders. The panel reviews examples of stop & search in practice through actual examination of stop search forms and Police performance data. Dorset Police also writes to a random selection of persons that have been subject to stop search to request feedback. Information and data from these sources is recorded and retained and considered by the Panel. In addition, every complaint against Police which concerns a stop search encounter will be considered by the Panel.

The Panel will be expected to convene when required on occasions out of the meetings schedule when a Community Complaints Trigger Mechanism Threshold has been met. The Trigger mechanism threshold for Dorset will be met if:

  1. There is a rise in the amount of stop & search related complaints against Police.NB every complaint against Police in relation to stop search encounters will be considered as a standing agenda at every set Panel meeting.
  2. There is a significant change in proportionality of those that are subject of stop & search BME likelihood to be subject of stop & search compared to white.
  3. A single event or incident related to stop & search activity that is giving significant cause for concern amongst our communities regarding police use of this tactic.
  4. Any other issue upon consultation with the Dorset Police Lead for stop & search.

The Stop & Search Community Scrutiny Panel will be chaired by the Dorset Police Stop Search lead.

The Police and Crime Commissioner or their delegate shall be invited to take part.

If a member of the public wishes to become involved in the Scrutiny Panel as a community representative, please contact Dorset Police Stop Search lead Chief Inspector 1107 Ashley Adams to arrange an initial communication. Email Ashley.Adams@dorset.pnn.police.uk

Dorset Police will deal properly and with integrity upon receipt of Complaint Against Police in relation to stop search activity.

Within Dorset the use of stop and search powers are monitored regularly by the Force Lead for Stop and Search to ensure that the powers are being used fairly and effectively and in accordance with the Law and guidance of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme. This page provides links to the Police.uk website and other information on the stop and search activity conducted by Dorset Police.

As well as stop and search activity, the maps and data on Police.uk provide information about the location and outcomes of a number of aspects of policing including crimes recorded in your area but not the wider work by the police and local partners to help make your community safer. If you want to find out more you can explore our force website, get in touch with your Neighbourhood Police Team to find out more, attend a regular beat meeting or contact your police and crime commissioner.

Dorset Police endeavours to update Police.uk before the last working day of each month to enable Police.uk to keep their information current and accurate. The updates we provide help Police.uk map incidents reported to the police, including stop and search activity, in the preceding month. For example, a stop and search encounter conducted by the police on 10th January will be published on the website on or before the last working day of February.”

 

Dorset police is committed to the ongoing evaluation and monitoring of its stop and search activity and creates a formal report on this area of public interaction on a quarterly basis. These reports cover a wide range of statistical analysis and the data they contain is used to compare our activity and performance on local and national levels. I addition to this, the reports are used to discuss our stop and search activity with our Community Scrutiny Panel. 

Click here to read the Stop and Search Overview for Dorset Police.

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