Northamptonshire Police officers may have been forced into a ‘defensive mode’ over the use of stop and search as a result of public statements by the force’s police and crime commissioner, an independent report has found.
Duwayne Brooks OBE, who has carried out work for the deputy mayor of London on stop and search, has completed a review of its use by Northamptonshire Police officers during the past year.
A report has been published today with Mr Brooks’ findings, including a series of recommendations about how the use of stop and search could be improved in the county.
In August last year, PCC Adam Simmonds announced that officers could be stripped of their stop and search powers if they have been found to misuse them.
One of Mr Brooks’ findings was that officers were forced into a defensive mode when, with the best intentions, the police and crime commissioner “communicated a policy publicly that was bound to have a negative impact on some and result in a rebellious attitude from others”.
As a result, Mr Brooks has recommended that any policy suggested by the OPCC that will have an impact on police officers should be communicated in a way that encourages discussion and feedback internally before any public announcement.
The report notes that the use of stop and search decreased by almost 50 per cent between May 2014 and May 2015.
Mr Brooks said he spoke to at least 60 young people from across the county, including two who had been stopped and searched for drugs.
A total of 114 people responded to a survey on Stop and Search within the period of the review and 70 of those had been stopped and searched in the last 12 months.
However, Mr Brooks said he was disappointed that more people from diverse communities did not come forward to participate in the survey.
He said: “I feel this is a significant area for future work and development.
“I am in no way suggesting that there is an immediate issue here, but outward engagement with diverse communities brings in key contacts and better relationships.
“I would have liked more members of the community who have been affected to have come forward to speak to me; although it is heart-warming to know that engagement with Northamptonshire’s young people has improved.”
Adam Simmonds, Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, said the report showed there was still work to do in improving the use of stop and search in the county.
he said: “I will be speaking with Superintendent Andy Cox about the contents of this report to ensure that the force continue to improve on their work in order to set a national benchmark for the use of Stop and Search powers.”