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Is stop and search worth the controversy?

Posted: Saturday 20th July 2013
Blog: Blogs

There’s been a lot of talk about stop and search powers during the past couple of weeks with much discussion about whether it's a police tactic that is really worth the controversy.

One of the issues with stop and search is that it risks communities' confidence in policing.

The use of the power can leave people less confident and less likely to report crime. Especially when it isn't used properly it has a damaging impact, particularly among young people and black and minority ethnic communities.

In Avon and Somerset complaints related to stop and search are low and if I look through the 3,000 items of correspondence I have had since November stop and search is only mentioned three times.

One of those contacts came after I sent a tweet asking people to contact me with their views about stop and search.

If people are concerned or have any feedback on stop and search they should contact me. I need to hear from people so I can address any issues or concerns they might have. It can be controversial police power but the chief constable tells me that operationally it is a valuable tool when used sensibly and proportionately. It can be used to avoid an arrest as it might result in a caution.

But the fact is using this power reinforces the police's relentless drive on reducing crime.

I will ask an independent volunteers panel to look at incidents where the stop and search power has been used. I will publish the response. I will work with the chief constable so that the police figures will be open and transparent.

I would also encourage as many people as possible to have their say in the Home Office consultation on stop and search which closes on August 12.

I was pleased to receive an email this week telling me Volunteer Police Cadets are launching in Bristol. Police Cadets have already been rolled out across other parts of Avon and Somerset Police with great success. I met some amazing Police Cadets in Taunton this week, who spoke confidently about the community events they have taken part in and the value they feel from being part of the scheme.

Bristol Cadets will meet at Henbury School, Bristol Brunel Academy Speedwell and Bridge Learning Campus Hartcliffe. Cadets are aged between 14 and 17 years old and if you know of a young person who wants to do something positive they should visit the police website to find out how to apply.

It would be hard to end this blog without mentioning the killing in Brislington.

As Police and Crime Commissioner I am not involved in operational policing. But last Saturday night I happened to be out in the city centre as an observer, seeing first-hand the pressures and demands of police officers. I heard about the killing as it came through. Incidents like this are thankfully rare but they are still a shock for everyone.

On this sad note, stay safe

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