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Section 60 stop and search powers are “harmful, ineffective and unnecessary”, Criminal Justice Alliance warns

The unnecessary use of section 60 stop and search powers is “damaging trust and confidence” in policing, the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA) has warned.

The report comes after the organisation, which campaigns for a “fair and effective criminal justice system”, lodged a super complaint against the police this week.

Section 60 stop and search powers give the police the right to search people in a defined area during a specific time period when they believe that serious violence will take place and it is necessary to use this power to prevent such violence; or that a person is carrying a dangerous object or offensive weapon; or that an incident involving serious violence has taken place and a dangerous instrument or offensive weapon used in the incident is being carried in the locality.

However, the latest research suggests that some 99 per cent of section 60 stop and searches do not result in weapons being found – meaning potentially thousands of innocent people are being “unnecessarily stopped and searched every year”.

The CJA report also shows that there were just 698 arrests made in 18,081 searches under section 60 in the year ending 31 March 2020 – representing an arrest rate of just four per cent.

Likewise, the Government itself found “no statistically significant crime-reducing effect from the large increase in weapons searches” in a 2016 study.

Separate research also revealed that black people are “18 times more likely to be stopped and searched under section 60 than white people”.

Commenting on the super complaint, Nina Champion, Director of the CJA, said: “It’s widely accepted that policing is at its best when it’s intelligence-led. Section 60 goes against this principle. It is a sweeping, draconian and ineffective power, disproportionately used against black and ethnic minority communities, damaging the trust and confidence vital to effective policing.

“It’s essential that officers have reasonable grounds when they search someone to ensure fair and proportionate policing. For these reasons, the government must urgently repeal section 60.

“We all want to reduce violent crime, but section 60 is not the solution and is causing more harm than good. Instead, the government must invest in communities and fund youth services, which have been decimated in recent years. Research by the All Parliamentary Party Group on Knife Crime shows violent crime has increased most in areas where the largest cuts have been made to youth services.”

Click here to access the super complaint.

Have you been accused of committing a crime? We help clients through all stages of the criminal justice process. For advice and representation, get in touch with our expert team today.

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