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Stop and search figures – statement

08 June 2020
On 19 March 2020 the Government published stop and search figures relating to the period from April 2018 to March 2019.

A number of people have asked via social media for our response, which can be found below:

Like all forces in England & Wales, Dorset Police uses stop and search as a legitimate way to maintain law and order.

We are very aware of the concerns around the use of stop and search, especially in light of recent events in the USA. Policing in the UK has always been by consent, since the days of Robert Peel and this is something that matters deeply to every police officer. It is not acceptable that any section of society should see the police as a threat or hostile to their community and it is up to us to make sure we maintain the confidence and support of everyone.

Stop and search, used properly, is a valuable tool in dealing with criminal behaviour, helping us deal with many offences, from possession of controlled substances to burglary. However, anyone subject to stop and search will know that it can be an unsettling experience, which only magnifies the upset felt by those who feel they have been stopped without reason or because of bias. We understand that and have been working to make sure our use of stop and search is appropriate and justified.

Dorset Police adopted the ‘Best Use of Stop Search’ and in 2019/20 of the 2,105 searches which were undertaken, 153 were individuals who identified as black and over half of those people were not residents of Dorset. This is an important context to recognise because figures are based on the resident population rather than visitors and therefore can exaggerate the disproportionality rate.

Having said this we recognise that any disproportionality can raise concerns and affect people’s perception of policing and, in Dorset, we are working hard to do all we can to ensure our use of stop and search is lawful, justified and necessary.

Since October 2017 we have been working with an independent scrutiny panel which was established by the Police & Crime Commissioner to ensure that our use of stop and search is fair and held to account. The panel review grounds, outcomes and a small sample of the body worn video available for stop and searches. The overwhelming response from this panel is the activity of our police officers is proportionate and justified.

In 2019 we undertook a review of how we use stop and search, alongside an independent review commissioned by the Police and Crime Commissioner. We have been implementing recommendations of these reviews, including strict supervisory reviews of each stop and search along with unconscious bias training for our staff. We have also introduced a stop and search board chaired by the Deputy Chief Constable to ensure we are progressive in the use of the tactic.

We have always worked hard to ensure that our communities and residents feel supported and protected by our officers and staff and we will continue learning lessons to improve the service we offer, especially to vulnerable communities and those who suffer prejudice and racism in their everyday lives.

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