Home secretary wants overhaul of powers, which have been disproportionately used against black and minority ethnic people
Police in England and Wales need to scale back their use of stop and search, the home secretary, Theresa May, is expected to tell MPs on Tuesday while announcing an overhaul of the powers.
May is also expected to tell MPs that the widespread use of the powers has been seen as sharply divisive among Britainâ€™s black and minority ethnic communities.
The launch of an immediate Home Office consultation over the future use of the powers follows a successful pilot scheme in five police forces, including the Metropolitan police and the West Midlands force, which has seen a more â€œintelligence-ledâ€ approach.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said the 18-month programme, Stop and Think â€“ which also covered Thames Valley, Dorset and Leicestershire â€“ has led to fairer and more efficient use of the powers.
The more targeted approach saw the use of stop and search reduced by up to half and an increase in the â€œhit rateâ€, the rate of detections and arrests, despite fewer searches on the street.
Her Majestyâ€™s Inspectorate of Constabulary is to publish the results of its year-long inquiry, which was ordered in the aftermath of the 2011 August riots to determine how effectively and fairly forces have been using their powers.
It also aimed to establish if officers know how to use the powers tactically and identify ways they can be used to build public trust.
May is expected to say she wants all 43 forces in England and Wales to use a far more selective intelligence-led approach.
The largest volume of searches take place under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Pace) powers, which require officers to have a â€œreasonable suspicionâ€ they will find something.
Black people are subjected to those â€œroutineâ€ street searches at roughly five and a half times the rate of white people.
But there is also particular concern about the use of â€œexceptionalâ€ section 60 searches, which allow officers to stop and search anyone in any area where they believe violence or disorder is about to take place. It was introduced to curb football violence but was widely used to combat knife crime.
Black people are up to 25 times more likely to be subjected to a section 60 stop and search than white people.
The use of stop and search under counter-terrorism powers have already been sharply scaled back after it was shown that more than 100,000 people stopped in 2011 led to no one being arrested for terrorism-related offences.
The fall in the use of stop and search under Pace powers by the Met has been the most spectacular, dropping from half a million searches in 2009/10 to a quarter of a million in 2011/12.
The latest Met figures show the decline has continued, with 45,932 Pace searches carried out in January 2012 falling by 33% to 30,674 in January this year.
The number of section 60 searches has fallen even more sharply in the past year, from 1,124 in January 2012 to just 37 this January.
The Metâ€™s approach has included reducing the number of â€œnegative drug searchesâ€ â€“ those in which nothing was found â€“ by 50% while increasing the number of searches for weapons by 20%. The changes mean the racial disproportionality has improved in London.
The Metâ€™s most recent figures for stop-and-search under Pace show that in 2013, 2.3 black people were stopped for every white person similarly tackled. The proportion was 4.3 to one in 2011.
The raw figures probably exaggerate the scale of the reduction because the 2011 ratio was based on the 2001 census and the 2013 ratio based on the 2011 census.
Londonâ€™s black and minority ethnic population has risen over the past 10 years, with 385,751 more black people, 561,842 more Asian people and a fall of 215,494 in the white population. Londonâ€™s total population is 8.2 million.
Police need to scale back stop and search, Theresa May to tell MPs
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