Boris Johnson plans to permanently lift the restrictions on police search powers imposed by his predecessor Theresa May during her time as Home Secretary.
The Prime Minister used “his first day after leaving self-isolation after positive coronavirus contact to describe in detail his new plan to fight crime,” says the London Evening Standard.
The proposals include new unpaid community services for criminals, better GPS tracking for intruders and a designated police officer that residents in any neighborhood in England and Wales can contact.
But it is the stop and search change that “likely angered activists” and “re-raises racial issues in Britain after last year’s protests against Black Lives Matter,” says Bloomberg.
The changes would permanently relax the conditions of a certain type of search authority under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which allows police to search a person for a limited time without good reason in an authorized area where they anticipate gun violence .
While some believe that a search and search is acceptable when there is a suspicion, the use of blanket powers under Section 60 has proven particularly controversial.
Here are some of the arguments put forward on both sides of the debate.
In its crime-fighting plan, the government argues that search and search is “one of many important tools used by police to combat serious violence and protect our streets”. She claims the powers allowed officers to remove more than 11,000 weapons from the streets and make 74,000 arrests in the last year alone.
“That is why we are making it easier for the police to use control and search powers by permanently relaxing the voluntary conditions for searches under Section 60, which are used when the police are expecting severe violence,” it says.
In fact, as part of a temporary national pilot project, these conditions have already been “watered down” in recent years, says Paul Waugh on HuffPost. The powers to issue orders according to § 60 have been reduced, the period in which the order can be made has been extended and authorizing officers only have to expect that violence “can” and “will not”.
Johnson now wants to make these reduced controls permanent, which the May 2014 policy as Home Secretary “finally buries” in order to reduce the number of controls and searches, says Waugh.
A Home Office spokesman told him that an evaluation of the pilot – which has yet to be made public – “has given police officers more confidence to harness the realities and uncertainties that local officials face in predicting serious violence, better reflected and “acted as a deterrent”.
One of the biggest complaints from activists about the raid and raid, especially the Section 60 blanket searches, is that they are “unjustly targeting ethnic minorities,” says Bloomberg.
Interior Ministry figures show that for the year ending March 2020, a black person was stopped nine times more often than a white person.
Emmanuelle Andrews, political and campaigning officer for civil rights group Liberty, told Bloomberg that the new rules “would increase discrimination in Britain and divide communities”. She added: “Many communities, especially colored communities, are experiencing arrogant and repressive police, and the package put forward by the government will only make this worse.”
When Labor launched the pilot in 2019, Labor’s Diane Abbott made a similar argument, warning that “evidence-based controls and searches will always be an important tool in preventing crime,” accidental stops under Section 60 “have only poisoned the relations of the police community”. “, Reported a police professional at the time.
Indeed, Her Majesty’s Police, Fire and Rescue Inspection in February this year called on the armed forces to analyze their data and explain to communities why controls and searches disproportionately affect ethnic minorities or “run the risk of public trust.”
Others argue that blanket Section 60 powers are simply “ineffective,” says The Independent. It notes that today’s announcement comes “two months after the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), a network of 160 organizations, filed a superclaim demanding waiver.”
The CJA points to government data showing that 99% of Section 60 searches in the year ending March 2020 did not result in a gun arrest, preventing victims and witnesses from cooperating with the police ”.