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Stop and search up by 57% in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire

Stop and search incidents have risen by 57% in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, according to the latest figures. 
stop and search
Cambridgeshire police record a rise of 57% in stop and search incidents in the last two years (Picture: PA Media)

This comes as official statistics show police have carried out the highest number of stop and searches in seven years, with the figure rising by more than 50% in 12 months. 

There were 558,973 stop and searches carried out in the year to March under section one of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Pace) in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures published on Tuesday, October 27. 

The powers allow police to search people and vehicles for things like drugs or a weapon without a warrant. 

The statistics cover all stop and search powers which police have under Pace, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and the Terrorism Act 2000. 

According to the figures, there were a further 18,081 stop and searches carried out under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (known as an s60) in anticipation of violence – an increase of 35% compared with the previous year (13,414). 

Cambridgeshire police figures for Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Peterborough show that between September 2019 and September 2020, there were 3,133 stop and searches conducted.

This is a significant rise (57.2%) from the 1,993 incidents reported between September 2018 and 2019.

When examining these incidents with an understanding of ethnicity, it shows that some communities have seen the number of incidents nearly double within the last two years.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, 1,059 white people were stopped and searched around the county. This rose to 1,569 across the same months between 2019 and 2020. 

The incidents nearly doubled for Black people: 98 were stopped and searched between 2018/2019, while 176 incidents were recorded for the next year. 

As for the Asian community, 162 people were stopped in 2019 to 2020, an increase from 104 recorded in 2018 to 2019. 

The figures for mixed ethnicities remained almost same with 71 in 2019 to 2020, as opposed to 70 in 2018 to 2019.

An FOI request to Peterborough Matters revealed, between 2018 and 2019, Cambridgeshire police recorded 129 incidents where a weapon was a reason for conducting the stop and search; this went up to 164 by July 2020. Of these, 26 people were arrested following the stop. 

The force also recorded an increase in females being stopped and searched. There were 21 incidents reported between 2019 to 2020, an increase from six recorded in the previous year. However, females stopped in case of a weapon has slightly dropped from 12 to 10.

A Home Office spokesman said stop and search was a "vital tool" for taking weapons off the streets and preventing deaths, adding that more than "11,000 knives, firearms and other weapons" were removed in 2019/20. 

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: "Stop and search is vital tactic that we use to keep the public safe. We know it can be an intrusive police power, and as such, must be used professionally and with great care. 
"It is an area we diligently scrutinise to ensure we are policing fairly. We are currently refreshing our community reference group, who will support us by providing valuable feedback on the use of this power. 
"We are proactive in our approach to addressing disproportionality in the use of stop and search, which is tracked and reviewed to ensure we uphold an ethical position and use of this power."

The force recently invited volunteers to join a new panel to review policing tactics including the use of Stop and Search powers and PAVA spray. 

By examining records, officer statements and body worn video footage, they will provide feedback to the Constabulary to help them shape the organisation in the future.  

The force previously had a panel looking at the use of stop and search, but this new group will widen the focus to include use of force and also seek a larger pool of people to consult from across the county. 

Those interested in volunteering, or who would like more information, should email the police here