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Significant drop in police use of stop and search in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 09:47 08 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:47 08 May 2018

File photo of police. Picture Archant.

File photo of police. Picture Archant.

Archant © 2004

Police in Norfolk stopped and searched fewer than half the number of people in 2017 compared to the number stopped under the same powers in 2016.

The total number of people stopped and searched in 2017 was just 1,265, marking a significant drop of 52pc from the 2,634 in 2016.

Police say this change is due to a move away from stop and search in police guidelines, as well as a change in tactics in regards to how they catch criminals with drugs.

Tactics have included the use of passing a drugs wipe test as a condition of entry to nightclubs across the county.

However, despite the drop in its use, stop and search remains ineffective at catching criminals, with only 23pc of the searches leading to any further action, ane with the majority of suspects found to be carrying nothing of interest.

Just 12pc of searches led to an arrest or a summons to court in Norfolk.

Data on the reason stop and searches were conducted was not provided by Norfolk police, however across the forces who did, 59pc of the people searched were suspected of carrying drugs.

Assistant chief constable Paul Sanford said: “Stop and search is a vital tool for our officers and the constabulary supports its use when there are sufficient grounds to do so. The primary purpose is to enable officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals without exercising their power of arrest.

“This is one of a number of reasons why the number of searches leading to conviction might appear low.”

He added: “Our officers have been encouraged to follow Home Office and College of Policing guidelines into how the power should be used and consistent with the majority of forces across England and Wales, the use of stop and search has reduced in Norfolk Constabulary since the introduction of this guidance.

“We equally appreciate that stop and search used wrongly can damage community confidence in policing.”

“Through Operation Gravity we have dramatically increased the number of arrests for drug related crime yet not seen rises in stop and search.

“This is because we have proactively gathered the intelligence required to arrest drug dealers in their homes rather than speculatively searching them on the street.”

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