The country’s most senior police officer, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has said that a decline in the number of stop and searches conducted by police has led to an increase in the number of knife crimes that are being committed in the country.
He is believed to be using the figures in a bid to persuade Home Secretary Theresa May to make a u-turn on her decision to cut the number of searches that were conducted. Ms May had previously said that she believed the tactic to be a waste of time, but there was a 23% increase in the number of youths that were stabbed in London in the 12 months up to May 2015 when compared to the year before.
Sir Hogan-Howe has said that he intends to introduce more targeted and therefore more effective stop and searches, rather than reintroducing the tactic in the indiscriminate way in which it was used previously. He also brought up draft legislation that means any individual caught with a knife in their possession twice would be sent to jail for six months, stating that similar legislation has worked when attempting to combat gun crime.
Ms May does not seem to have the same picture of how the power is being used, however, and said that she wanted to see the number of stops continue to decrease, she wanted to see the number of arrests to stops increase, and she wanted to ensure that searches were made on a more targeted basis. She went on to say that if these targets were not met, then she would not hesitate to bring in primary legislation in order to ensure that it did happen.
Stop and search powers were brought in in a bid to combat terrorism, but there were major concerns over the indiscriminate way in which the police were using the power. In particular, there were concerns that it was being used as an excuse to simply stop and search young people, regardless of whether they were believed to be involved in terrorism or not, and this debate appears to be continuing.