HMICFRS's fourth assessment of the Police Effectiveness, Efficiency and Legitimacy (PEEL) report outlines how we are keeping people safe and reducing crime. Stop and search was part of the legitimacy inspection and you can access the full report on the HMIC website.
Gwent Police was subject to a HMICFRS PEEL Inspection in 2017 and stop and search was reviewed as part of that Inspection. The inspection involved workshops with operational staff and various interviews and reviews of our current processes.
The reports were finalised and published in December 2017. Whilst Gwent was graded overall as “Good”, stop and search was identified as an area that required improvement. Recommendations included putting in place independent external scrutiny and utilising body-worn video when reviewing the use of stop and search powers as well as more comprehensive analysis of stop and search data. These have been taken forward and included in a comprehensive improvement plan. Gwent now have an internal Coercive Scrutiny Board which reviews stop search on a quarterly basis, with dip-sampling and audits being undertaken. A random selection of our stop search records are independently reviewed by the Office of the Police and Crime commissioner Legitimacy and Scrutiny Panel on a quarterly basis. This panel consists of volunteers from the community.
HMICFRS completed a Stop and Search Audit in 2019 where they reviewed a random sample of searches. They found that 79.1% of our searches had reasonable grounds.
BUSS is a Home Office initiative introduced in 2014. The principal aims of the scheme are to achieve greater transparency, community involvement in the use of stop and search powers and to support a more intelligence led approach, leading to better outcomes, for example, an increase in the stop and search to positive outcome ratio.
All 43 Police Forces in England and Wales have voluntarily signed up.
Features of BUSS
Recording and publishing outcomes
Providing opportunities for the public to observe stop and search encounters
Implementing a community trigger for complaints
Amendment to authorisation levels for searches under section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
Monitoring the use of stop and search powers
Gwent Police has been fully compliant with the scheme since its introduction.
The College of Policing has developed a definition of fair and effective stop and search in collaboration with police practitioners, Force senior officers and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for stop and search.
A stop and search is most likely to be fair and effective when:
the search is justified, lawful and stands up to public scrutiny
the officer has genuine and objectively reasonable suspicion that s/he will find a prohibited article or item for use in crime
the person understands why they have been searched and feels that they have been treated with respect
the search is necessary and is the most proportionate method the Police Officer can use to establish whether the person has such an item
Four core elements underpin the definition:
The decision to stop and / or search a person must be fair
The search must be legal in basis and in application
Interaction with the public during the encounter must be professional
Police use of stop and search powers must be transparent and accountable
As part of our commitment to the Home Office's Best use of stop and search (BUSS) scheme and to deliver on our commitment to be open and transparent, we publish data on our use of stop search so that the communities of Gwent can be assured that Gwent Police is legitimate in its use of these powers.