Critically Discussion of the Issue of Stop and Search

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The issue of stop and search is considered to be an extremely controversial area. There is significant debate on the legitimacy and the accountability of police powers when conducting stop and search, which has led to concerns about the effectiveness of policing. Reiner (2000: 80) has stated that policing is ‘beyond legitimation’ as a result of consistent complaints concerning the abuse of police powers within stop and search. The cause for concern is not only raised by the public, or other agencies, but is now recognised by senior British police officers (Ainsworth, 2002: 28). The cause of concern has been raised through complaints that police target ethnic minorities through stop and search and public opinion, that stop and search is a form police harassment of black individuals (Home Office, 19897). It is said that this is a causal factor of the disproportionate in policing (Delsol and Shiner, 2006). Throughout this essay the effectiveness and legitimacy of stop and search and the negative relationship it has built with the public will be critically discussed.

The purpose of stop and search, an investigative tool to prevent crime is arguably different to the current practice of this procedure, current research suggests that it is used to gain intelligence and for social control (Bowling and Phillip, 2007). Following this, there is substantial evidence suggesting that thirty police forces have no understanding of how to use their powers to complete a stop and search (HMIC, 2013). Furthermore, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984, c60) states that a police officer can only stop and search a citizen if they have reasonable grounds to suspect they have stolen or prohibited items on their person. However, statistical evide...

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...tistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System 2010 Ministry of Justice: London

Miller, J. (2010) ‘Stop and search in England: a reformed tactic or business as usual?’ British Journal of Criminology 50(5), 954(21)

Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984, c.60) London: Stationery Office

Quinton, P., Bland, N., Miller, Joel (2000) Paper 130: Police stops, Decision-Making, and Practice. London: Home Office

Reiner, R. (2010) The Politics of the Police. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom

Stone, V., Pettigrew, Nick. (2000) Paper 129: The Views of the Public on Stops and Searches. London: Home office

Waddington, J. A.P. (1999) ‘Police (canteen) sub-culture: an appreciation’ British Journal of Criminology 29(2)

Waddington, J. A. P., Stenson, K., Don, D. (2004) ‘In proportion: Race, and Police Stop and Search.’ British Journal of Criminology 44, 889- 914

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