POLICE on the Isle of Wight are among those to have signed up to a new Best Use of Stop and Search scheme announced by home secretary Theresa May.
Hampshire Constabulary announced today (Wednesday) it was joining the voluntary scheme, designed to improve community relations.
According to a spokesman, by the end of October, the force will:
• Increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome.
• Restrict the use of Section 60 "no suspicion" powers. Already used only when necessary, under this scheme, the chief officer (or appointed lead officer for a specific operation) must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers. In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence "will" rather than "may" take place, as it stands now.
• Give members of the public the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice.
Introduce a community complaints trigger.
The Home Secretary said she hoped use of the scheme would reduce the overall number of stop and searches, but increase their effectiveness.
She said: "Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.
"That is why I am delighted Hampshire Constabulary has committed to reforming their use of stop and search by volunteering for the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme.
"It will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used and help local communities hold the police to account for their use of the powers."
Hampshire Constabulary Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: "It is important that we do everything possible to build trust and to help our communities to feel safer.
"That is why, while Hampshire is not a 'launch’ force for the Stop and Search Scheme, we will be implementing these changes by late October.
"Officers should only use these powers when there is a clearly defined policing need, but we also need to do more to increase public understanding of why and when it is appropriate to use Stop and Search powers and when it is not."