Stop and search up 130% in South Shields as police encourage officers to use powers

Police use of controversial ‘stop and search’ powers has more than doubled over the past year.

File picture from PA as figures show stop and search is up 130% in South Shields
File picture from PA as figures show stop and search is up 130% in South Shields

The latest figures from Northumbria Police show that since the beginning of August it has been used at least 52 times in South Shields – an increase of more than 130 per cent on the same period in 2018.

Rules mean officers are allowed to ‘stop and search’ a person if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect they may be carrying drugs, weapons, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime.

The force’s lead for stop and search, Superintendent Paul Milner, said: “Stop and search is among a number of tactics that we use across the whole of Northumbria to tackle crime and keep our communities safe.

“The reality is that stop and search can prevent crime, including some of the most serious and violent type of offences.

“As a result, we actively encourage officers to use their powers when grounds are met and it is proportionate to do so.”

Recently released national figures showed stop and search, which has been criticised for disproportionately targeting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people, was used 370,454 times in 2018/19, a third higher than the year before (2017/18).

Stop and search was raised at a meeting of the West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Area Forum (CAF).

Sgt Claire Fada told the committee ‘despite controversy’ around the use of stop and search powers it would ‘continue where grounds exist’.

Sgt Fada also revealed efforts to crack down on nuisance riders were being hampered by a lack of information being provided by the public.

“Motorcycle anti-social behaviour remains an issue, not just in our area but countrywide too,” she said.

“But we’ve had no identities from any reports made to us, no intelligence has been offered – if you know where these bikes are being stored, tell us and we will act on it

“Patrols will continue on motorcycle disorder although we’re limited in what we can do, but we also have the DNA spray at our disposal.”

Guide to ‘stop and search’

Police officers in England and Wales have the right to ‘stop and question’ a person at any time and can also ‘stop and search’ if they suspect you have committed or may be going to commit a crime.

Although police community support officers (PCSO) must be in uniform when they stop and question you a police officer doesn’t have to be in uniform, but if not they must show you their warrant card.

Under ‘stop and question’ rules an officer can ask:

Your name What you’re doing in the area Where you’re going

You do not have to stop or answer any questions and if you don’t this alone can’t be used as a reason to search or arrest you, unless they have other reasons to suspect you.

Under ‘stop and search’ powers, police officers can stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:

Drugs A weapon Stolen property Something which could be used to commit a crime

‘Stop and search’ can take place without reasonable grounds, but only if approved by a senior police officer and it is suspected:

Serious violence could take place You are carrying a weapon or have used one You are in a specific location or area

Before carrying out a search, a police officer must tell you:

Their name and police station What they expect to find The reason they want to search you Why they are legally allowed to search you That you can have a record of the search