Stop and search: I was really scared and shaking


Stop and search is considered an important tool in tackling crime but some of those on the receiving end say it is intrusive and intimidating.

A public consultation is currently underway in England and Wales to find out how the procedure can be improved and used fairly.

Fourteen-year-old Myron was stopped when he was 12.

"I was really scared and shaking. They never explained to me why they were doing it."

About one million stop and searches are carried out in England and Wales every year but fewer than one in 10 lead to an arrest.

This has lead to criticism that it's a waste of police time.

However, the main controversy, is who it's used on. Statistics show black people and other ethnic minorities are seven times more likely to be stopped than white people.

Diquan, 16, has lost count of how many times it's happened to him.

"Most of the time I think they're stopping me because of my race. If I'm in a group of black people, I'm more likely to get stopped than if I was with white people."

Emmanuel Imuere heads the stop and search group for Lewisham.

"Police need to basically speak to people respectfully, with dignity, explain the reasons.

"These are the things that will make people feel like they're not being targeted by their race, colour, or gender."

Making changes

The Home Secretary Theresa May says it's time to get it right, adding that no-one should be stopped "just on the basis of their skin colour".

Stop and search police powers

    • Police need "reasonable grounds" to believe a person is carrying drugs, a weapon or a stolen property
    • Police must explain grounds for the search
    • Person stopped does not need to answer questions
    • Search does not mean an arrest
Source: Home Office

Newsbeat went out on patrol with PCs John Denzel and Tom Roberts from Thames Valley Police in Slough.

Officers must have reasonable grounds to stop and search in the first place. PC Denzel says they use it carefully and respectfully.

"Stop and search is there to prevent crime but it's not always necessary to go down that route.

"We don't want to go at it like a bull in a china shop. You might have to deal with drunk people or those who don't have much love for the police."

They also use cameras mounted on jackets to record any stop and search.

"It's always switched on. It makes us more transparent so members of the public can see what we're doing," says PC Roberts.

Myron and Diquan say they like the approach of Thames Valley Police but are still cautious about the officers.

The public consultation ends on 24 September 2013. Click here to take part in the survey.

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