Police and Crime Commissioner publishes independent review in to Northamptonshire Police’s use of Stop and Search powers

Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northamptonshire, has today published Duwayne Brooks’ independent review in to how reform by Northamptonshire Police in their use of Stop and Search powers is being felt across the county.

Following a consultation in to the perceptions and views of communities around the use of Stop and Search powers in January 2014, Northamptonshire Police announced a number of changes to their Stop and Search procedures, including:

  • Proactively handing out Stop and Search forms when the tactic is used – more than legislation requires
  • Establishing a Reasonable Grounds Panel to assess all searches
  • Commissioning Northamptonshire Rights and Equalities Council (NREC) to provide officer training
  • Trialling the use of body-worn cameras to identify areas of improvement
  • Retraining officers who have misused Stop and Search tactics

As a result of these measures, one year on from the consultations, the use of Stop and Search had nearly halved in the county (down by 43%) due to prioritising quality of use, while Northamptonshire Police were also awarded the international Daniel Wagman Award, for commitment to managing social diversity.

In August 2015, Commissioner Simmonds asked Mr Brooks – the Deputy Major of London’s critical friend on Stop and Search and formerly one of the most stopped and searched individuals in the country – to investigate how a number of changes to Stop and Search procedures by the county force had impacted on communities. The Police and Crime Commissioner has today released these findings.

Mr Brooks report – available to view here – contains a number of recommendations to continue Northamptonshire’s proactive work around the use of Stop and Search. These recommendations include increasing engagement between the Police and communities, enhancing communication throughout the Force in order to transmit strategy decisions to front line officers and the use of more effective training methods.

Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said:

“The use of Stop and Search powers by the police can be highly effective but if used in the wrong way, they can be extremely damaging to people and communities, and this can have an extremely negative effect on relationships between residents and the police force. 

“I began this area of work in January 2014 because of a desire to engage with people of the county to ensure they were being treated fairly and to ensure that Northamptonshire Police were building effective relationships in our communities.

“As a result of our work, Northamptonshire Police have pioneered an alternative approach to Stop and Search that has been internationally recognised. However, as Duwayne Brooks’ report shows, there is still work to do in order to make sure these changes are being felt on the ground and are helping to build strong relationships between the police and people of the county.

“I will therefore be speaking with Superintendent Andy Cox about the contents of this report to ensure that the force continue to improve on their work in order to set a national benchmark for the use of Stop and Search powers.”

Duwayne Brooks, the Deputy Major of London’s critical friend on Stop and Search, added:

“It was an honour to have been asked to conduct the independent review into the perceptions of how Stop and Search powers are used in Northamptonshire.

“I would have liked more members of the community who have been affected to have come forward to speak to me; although it is heart-warming to know that engagement with Northamptonshire’s young people has improved.

Communities of Northamptonshire can be proud and reassured that Northamptonshire Police continues to be open to scrutiny and critique and I should hope will accept and implement the recommendations within this report.”

Superintendent Andy Cox, Stop and Search lead for Northamptonshire Police, commented:

‘Northamptonshire Police has just been inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) which found Northamptonshire to be a ‘Good’ Force in the use of and application of Stop and Search.

“Northamptonshire has recently been recognised with an international award for tackling a challenging social and diverse issue in respect of its Stop and Search reasonable grounds panel. A Stop and Search leading academic; Michael Shiner, has recently stated ‘Northamptonshire Police Stop Search activities are the most exciting developments in Stop and Search anywhere in the world within the last ten years’.

“Northamptonshire Police will of course consider this report and will strive for continuous improvement.”