1 May 2019

The below is a transcript of the event hosted on Facebook - original event can be found here.

Tonight we're joined by Superintendent Clive Davies (Surrey), Inspector Simon Burroughs (Sussex) and Mark Rendall (Sussex) on the Stop & Search side, and Superintendents Chris Colley (Surrey) and Howard Hodges (Sussex) who are Force leads for Use of Force.

Do post your questions below and we'll do our best to answer them over the next hour - the contributors will be identified by their initials at the end of the response.

Stop and Search and the Use of Force are two police powers that attract a lot of interest and we also recognise that the Use of Force is often a part of Stop and Search. We therefore have joint external scrutiny meetings in place across both counties focussing on both topics.

We’re excited about tonight because this is a further opportunity for additional external scrutiny and transparency that we welcome.

Our scrutiny panels are chaired independently of the police and we would be really keen to increase membership at our scrutiny meetings with a particular focus on young people and those from a BAME background to ensure that all of our panels are as representative of the communities we serve as possible.

If you are interested in supporting our work by joining one of these panels please comment on this message and we will put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Your Questions Answered

Stop and search will be conducted by an officer of the same gender as the person being searched. There is clear guidance to officers about how they will conduct a stop and search. If necessary officers will call a colleague to assist where those conducting the initial stop are of a different gender. (SB)

Stop and search is an important tactic in the fight against crime but shouldn't be used in isolation. It is best used in an intelligence led way alongside other tactics and in partnership with other agencies. (SB, CD, MR)

The use of stop and search powers are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. In addition both Surrey and Sussex have signed up to the Government Best Use Of Stop And Search Scheme (See both forces' stop and search pages for more detail). 

Officers have to provide clear grounds and key information to any person stopped and searched. The person should be treated with respect and provided with a receipt at the conclusion of any search.

Use of force tactics include; an officer taking hold of someone's arm, using handcuffs, deploying a police dog and using a baton, irritant spray, Taser or firearm. (HH, CC)

Each year officers receive 2 days of training which includes theoretical and practical Use of Force inputs and assessment i.e. the law, practical use and scenario based assessments to national standards which shows how seriously we take this responsibility. (HH,CC)

Some specialists i.e. firearms and TASER trained officers receive significant additional training over and above their colleagues which is really important.

A search for a knife would be conducted where an officer suspects that a knife is being carried due to information or intelligence indicating that a knife is being carried or concealed by a subject. 

These grounds can be formed by an officer at the time - perhaps by speaking to the subject or can be based on information that the officer receives. In certain circumstances - ie where a Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 search has been authorised, an officer can search an individual without grounds in a specified location and at a specified time. 

In these circumstances the force must put out messaging explaining why the Section 60 is in force, the location and duration. (SB, CD, MR)

We always welcome feedback from the public and scrutinise ourselves internally reviewing the use of force our officers record and additionally have externally scrutiny from the community in relation which is important to ensure that we are transparent and accountable.

Section 117 reasonable force to exercise powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act -

Section 3 of the criminal law act reasonable force in the circumstances to prevent crime or lawfully arrest or assist -

Don't forget we always need to have the grounds to suspect someone may have the object of the search on their person, but these are some examples of what we can search for - controlled drugs, stolen property, going equipped for theft/fraud, articles which are intended to cause criminal damage, offensive weapons and knives, firearms, crossbows, fireworks, psychoactive substances and items linked to terrorism. (SB,CD,MR)

It's also worth remembering / knowing the GOWISELY mnemonic...

Officers are required to have and give you:

  • their (G)rounds for the search
  • the (O)bject of the search - what they're looking for
  • show their (W)arrant card if not in uniform
  • their (I)dentity – by giving their name
  • the (S)tation that they’re posted to: Brighton / Guildford
  • your (E)ntitlement to a copy of the search form
  • the (L)egal power that the search is being conducted under
  • a reminder that “(Y)ou are being detained for the purpose of a search”

If you are interested in the possibility of seeing the stop and search powers being used you may be interested in the local ride along scheme (Sussex) / lay observer scheme (Surrey).

We publish our statistics monthly and these are available on the website.

Surrey - over the past 12 months there have been 5873 searches, we find something in 28% of searches. We arrest in 12% of the cases.

Sussex - over the past 12 months there have been 5900 searches, we find something in 31% of searches. We arrest in 14% of cases.

There are other ways of dealing with prohibited articles which avoid the need for arrest, including restorative justice, out of custody interviews and reporting for summons. (SB, CD, MR)

There is a host of information on our websites...Have a look at: