Have your say on police stop and search powers

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Northamptonshire Police is asking anyone who has been stopped and searched by police officers in the county to share their views and experience of the search.

The new survey is part of a drive to raise awareness and understanding of police stop and search powers and ensure people who are stopped and searched are aware of their rights and how the search should be conducted.

Superintendent Andy Cox, lead for the force’s stop and search working group, is keen to increase people’s understanding about when and why the police use stop and search, as well as finding out more about the experiences of those people who have been stopped and searched.

He said: “When used effectively, stop and search is a really valuable policing tool that can help prevent and detect crime and make our communities safer.

“The survey gives us the chance to get information directly from people who have been stopped and searched, helping us to make sure the correct procedures are being followed and to better understand the impact the use of these powers can have.

“A police officer has the power to stop and search an individual, or their vehicle, if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they are involved in crime, are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property, or something that could be used to commit a crime.

“There are a number of laws that give officers the powers to do this without having to arrest someone first, but it must be proportionate and they must have clear grounds for doing so, based on accurate and up to date information.”

The survey takes about five minutes to do and can be completed online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/stopandsearch2012.

Supt Cox added: “Nearly 8,000 stop and searches have been carried out by officers over the last 12 months and we are very keen for anyone who has experienced this – at any time – to complete our questionnaire.

“For example, we want to know if the officer gave you their name, explained why they had stopped you and what they were looking for.

“We also want to know how you felt about the search and if anything could have been done to improve the experience.”

The number of times stop and search powers were used from January to December 2012 was 7,968.

More information about stop and search can be found at www.northants.police.uk under the Information section on the home page.