UK & World News
Police Face Disciplinary Over Stop And Search
Police officers will face disciplinary hearings if they do not stick to a new, tougher code of practice for stop and search.
Home Secretary Theresa May said an investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found in 27% of stop and searches there were no reasonable grounds for suspicion.
Figures also show those with black or ethnic minority backgrounds were six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, which she said was "absolutely disgraceful".
She said the "feeling that has come through to young people in black and minority ethnic communities that this is what happens and that this is, if you like, a way of life".
Announcing she intended to draw up a tougher code of practice, Mrs May said she had written to all of the country's chief constables warning unless officers stuck to that code she would introduce legislation to make it a statutory requirement.
Mrs May told the House of Commons she had "long been concerned about the use of stop and search" - powers which have been controversial with the public.
She said: "While it is undoubtedly an important police power, when it is misused stop and search can be counter-productive.
"First, it can be an enormous waste of police time. Second, when innocent people are stopped and searched for no good reason, it is hugely damaging to the relationship between the police and the public. In those circumstances it is an unacceptable affront to justice."
The Home Secretary said she intended to revise the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Code of Practice A to make clear what constitutes "reasonable grounds for suspicion".
In addition it would make clear that where officers are not using their powers properly they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.
She added: "I have told them that if they do not do so, the Government will bring forward legislation to make this a statutory requirement."
However, Labour said the toughening up of the guidance had not gone far enough.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said stop and search targets given to police must be banned and called for the code to be laid down in law, rather than just as guidance.
She claimed Mrs May's initial plans had been watered down at the behest of the Prime Minister and said: "Your plans have been frisked of serious substance and we need to know why you have backed down."