Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom is committed to working with key stakeholders to address concerns about the use of stop and search.
Liz says the tactic can help prevent crime and save lives, but said frontline officers needed training and support to ensure it is used proportionately.
She was speaking after Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary Wendy Williams published a comprehensive report on the disproportionate use of police powers with a spotlight on stop and search and use of force.
Ms Williams said: “Over 35 years on from the introduction of stop and search legislation, no force fully understands the impact of the use of these powers. Disproportionality persists and no force can satisfactorily explain why.”
According to the report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS), in 2019/20, black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people were over four times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
It also estimated there were reasonable grounds for stop and search encounters in 81.7 per cent of cases – down from 94 per cent in 2017.
Forces have been urged to improve their understanding of the tactic by identifying disproportionality, take action to reduce it where required, and explain those reasons and actions to the public.
Liz said: “Stop and search is a valuable tool that’s been used effectively to take drugs and weapons off the streets, help prevent crime and, in turn, save lives.
“But there’s still some work to be done to address concerns about disproportionate use of stop and search. We’re committed to working with our partners and key stakeholders to address those concerns.
“It’s important, for instance, that my frontline colleagues have the highest standard of training, supervision and safeguards such as body-worn videos to ensure they have confidence they’re using it appropriately and that our communities have confidence they’re using it appropriately.”
Reacting to the report, Paul Odle, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Black Asian Minority Ethnic and BAME Belief Group, which this month became part of the HMICFRS External Reference Group on diversity and inclusion, said: “PFEW is fully committed to eradicating all forms of discrimination through community education, awareness and by listening to colleagues and the communities we serve.
“PFEW’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic and BAME Belief Group is part of an ongoing, important conversation on this subject, and we are dedicated to developing a greater cultural understanding around stop and search.”