People in Northamptonshire who have been stopped and searched by police in the past 12 months are being urged to come forward to give their views on the experience as part of an independent review in to the use of the powers in the county.
Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds has appointed Duwayne Brooks, the Deputy Major of London’s critical friend on stop and search, to assess progress made by Northamptonshire Police following a 2014 report in to the views and perceptions of local communities around the use of the powers.
Mr Brooks began his review last week by meeting with Northamptonshire Rights and Equalities Council, senior officers from Northamptonshire Police and visitors to Adrenaline Alley in Corby, and he will stay in the county across the week commencing Monday, 7th September in order to liaise further with people who have been stopped and searched in the past 12 months, as well as officers who are tasked with carrying out searches.
He will visit a number of different groups as part of his review, and will host a radio phone-in on Inspiration FM as well as taking part in two online discussion sessions – on Wednesday 9th between 6.30-7.30pm, and Friday, 11th September between 10.30-11.30am – in order to reach as wider demographic of people as possible. Anyone wishing to take part in these discussions should email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 4th September, indicating which session they would like to participate in.
Superintendent Andy Cox revealed last week that a reformed approach to stop and search by Northamptonshire Police had led to its use nearly halving in the past year, down from 7,374 to 3,414, while for the same period the number of searches that led to a positive outcome for officers had risen from 17.4 per cent to 24.8 per cent.
However, the Police and Crime Commissioner is keen to ensure that Northamptonshire Police continue to lead the way in the use of stop and search powers, and has therefore asked Mr Brooks to produce his own, independent review in to how reform is being felt on the ground amongst residents and communities.
And Mr Brooks has made a plea for anyone who has experienced a stop and search procedure over the past year to come forward and speak with him to ensure his review is as accurate as possible.
Duwayne Brooks, who has been stopped and searched numerous times himself, said:
“For me to write an effective report that voices the views of those who believe stop and search is an issue in Northamptonshire, I need to be able to speak to everybody. That includes minority organisations, colleges, groups that work with offenders – everybody.
“That also includes police officers. We need to get their views of how they think stop and search has impacted on the communities that they police, and on their team in terms of spirit and morale – I don’t want any officer to feel victimised or that the Chief Constable or Police and Crime Commissioner is against them doing their job effectively.
“Everyone wants to live in a community that is safe for them, their family and their friends, and everyone wants to live in a community that is policed properly. I’m not here to assume, nor am I hear to cause controversy. I am here to write an effective report with recommendations that can build on the work that has been done already.
“For that to happen I need to speak to as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible, and I would urge everyone to come forward to make their voice heard.”
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, added:
“It is absolutely vital that Duwayne is able to speak to as many people as possible who have been stopped and searched over the past year.
“We’ve appointed Duwayne, who has extensive experience of stop and search from all angles, to give us independent insight in to the thoughts and feelings around this use of police powers, and the more people he speaks to, the more accurately he will be able to portray these views to us.
“We want to engage and work with all of our communities, and I would encourage and welcome everyone with experience of stop and search to help us do that by getting in contact with Duwayne, or by filling in our survey.”
Anyone who wishes to speak with Mr Brooks can send him their views, arrange to meet with him or arrange to take part in an online discussion by emailing: email@example.com.
Alternatively, people can express their views on stop and search by heading to www.NorthantsStopSearchSurvey.co.uk and filling out the survey.