Stop and search checks on South Yorkshire streets increase by 400 per cent

Police 'stop and search' checks on the streets of South Yorkshire have increased by 400 per cent on historic levels as the force increases pressure on gangs and drug dealing suspects.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 4:00 pm
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 4:53 pm

A figure of more than 300 searches conducted in Barnsley during October would have been the total expected for the whole of South Yorkshire only two years ago, said Chief Constable Stephen Watson.

In fact, the force-wide figure was 1,844 - reflecting national guidance to abandon a previous Government imposed crackdown on numbers of searches conducted.

Despite the surge in numbers of searches, the 'success' rate where officers found something suspicious, remained at around 20 per cent, which is regarded as acceptable.

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The use of stop and search powers by South Yorkshire Police has increased by 400 per cent

Mr Watson said more of those subjected to stop and search checks were now being filmed because the officers involved wore body-cams, with those involved shown to be ‘highly professional’ in their work.

He said: "We are seeing stop and search going up dramatically. October 2019 was the highest in Barnsley. Two years ago that would have represented the whole of South Yorkshire."

Numbers of arrests have also been increasing, with officers now taking 27 per cent more suspects than they would have done a year ago, an increase of around 100 people per week.

"That is why crime is falling," he said, "Our people are pro-actively on the front foot. I know this is what the public expect to see."

The figures were presented to South Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Alan Billings, at a meeting of his Public Accountability Board, where the Chief Constable and his force are held to account.

An independent ethics panel, which reports to the PCC, monitors performance and statistics around stop and search, has proved a controversial tactic in the past because of the way some districts have borne the brunt of checks.

However. its chairman, Andrew Lockley, told the board the panel had: "Been most impressed by the way the successful outcomes figure has been maintained."

After being discouraged by the Government in the early years of the decade, the value of stop and search were recognised as knife and violent crime began to increase.

That led to its acceptance as a mainstream policing tactic.