August 15, 2022

‘I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work’

Priti Patel has permanently lifted restrictions placed on police stop and search powers, which have been heavily criticised in recent years.

Amid continued criticism surrounding her Rwanda relocation plan, home secretary Priti Patel has found herself in more hot water after announcing changes to stop and search powers.

Stop and search falls under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, and such limitations have been in place since 2014. That was until May 16, when a letter from the home secretary revealed the changes to police officials.

Such powers give police the right to search people without probable cause and where violence is predicted. Before the change, officers had to be sure that violence “will” occur before using stop and search, but the new rules explain that officers only need to perceive that violence “may” occur.

The change also increases the length of time such methods can be employed, from 15 hours to 24 hours. They can also be extended to 48 hours instead of the previous 39.

“The devastating impact of knife crime on families who have lost their loved one is unbearable. No one should have to endure the pain and suffering of the victims of these appalling crimes and we have a responsibility to them to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies,” Patel said.

She continued: “Since 2019, the police have removed over 50,000 knives and offensive weapons from our streets and in the two years to March 2021, over 150,000 arrests were made following stop and search, preventing thousands of possible fatal injuries.

“I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work to drive down knife crime by making it easier for officers to use these powers to seize more weapons, arrest more suspects and save more lives.”

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Such laws are controversial, to say the least, with data suggesting that people of colour are disproportionately affected. Twitter has been discussing the changes.

One user pointed out: “Stop and search; restricting citizenship; controlling the electoral commission; cracking down on protest – This is a power grab the likes of which we have never seen.”

“So, stop and search whenever the police feel like it?” another tweeted.

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