Paper Example on Protecting the Youth From Challenges of Stop and Search Policies

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1834 Words
Date:  2022-10-13


Stop and search refers to the legal police powers to physically stop and search an individual. These powers originated from the 19th century Vagrancy Act, and they still play an essential role as policing strategy in England and Wales. Most stop and search policies require reasonable grounds- an intelligence and genuine suspicion to uncover illegal activity or possession of weapons. Recent policies also permit stop and search in cases of football hooliganism, terrorism or anticipated violence. In 2011 most cities across Britain demonstrated against the use of stop and searched policy by the police as a tool for discrimination, racism and offering unjustified punishment. The youth who belong to the Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups are identified to be among the leading people being discriminated by the police during stop and search. The effectiveness of stop and search policies has also been questioned, therefore, making it a significant political and practical issue in England and Wales. This research questions the superficial belief in the efficiency of stop and search by citing consistent evidence to the contrary; stop, and searches might, therefore, be an object of necro-political investment in such tactics, (Delsol, 2015: 79), instead of rational oriented policy formulations aimed at attaining protection through legal safeguards.

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Stop and Search Policies in England and Wales

Reasonable Grounds

Reasonable grounds refers to the legal test with which the officer must satisfy before searching. There are various stop and searches in England and Wales which require reasonable grounds and some that do not. The application of this test is based on two criteria:

The search power can be exercised if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that they will find the object for which the stop and search power is being applied (Home Office 2014:5).

The suspicion that the object being searched will be found has to be reasonable. The latter means that the suspicion must be based on relevant knowledge or facts that vital to the likelihood that the object will be found such that any other reasonable person is likely to reach to the same conclusion if presented with the same information or facts.


According to section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) - Code A, a search may be conducted if one is suspected of possessing stolen property, offensive weapons and equipped for criminal damage or stealing.

Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 a stop and search is allowed if an individual (s) is suspected of possession or using drugs.

Section 43 of Terrorism Act 2000 also allows for a stop and search as a measure against terrorism prevention. Reasonable grounds are not required in this case especially in or around particular protected areas.

Section 47 of the Firearms Act 1968 mandates or a search to be conducted provided there is reasonable ground in doing so.

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of1994 allows for a search to be conducted if there is anticipated violence. Reasonable grounds for performing such a stop and search is not mandated.

Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 also permits for a stop and search if suspected of having offensive weapons especially within the proximity of particular areas such as schools. Reasonable grounds for such suspicion are required.

Problems with Police Stop and Search Powers

Ethnic Discrimination in Stop and Search

The Black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups have disproportionally received the bitter end of search and stop policy. The fact that has resulted in the growth of resentment against the police force. Misrepresentation of youth in particular communities during stop and search also increases the chances of reoffending in the future due to early exposure to the criminal justice system.

Justification of Improper Police Behaviour

The police also enjoy immunity from prosecution despite most of their stop and search practices being found to lack reasonable suspicion despite being a criminal offence under the law of tort.

Stop and Search As a Form of Racial Punishment

A combination of both racial and age vulnerability affects the youth to a greater extent as they are not well equipped with the resources to ensure a valid stop and search procedure adheres. The need to command respect among the youth by the police also erodes the rationality of the process.

Ineffective Policing Strategy

Stop and searches are ineffective and a waste of police resources. The implementation of the policy also reduces the support for policing service significantly. The stop and search policy also fails to prevent non-violent crimes.

A Violation of Privacy

The young people being stopped and frisked feel embarrassed, belittled and provoked as the officers as they are given less justification for being searched and they fear to escalate the situation. During the process, the self-esteem of the young people is affected. Law abiding citizens are also affected negatively.

Stereotyping the Youth

Stop and search tactic also increases the chances of young people being stereotyped based on their tattoos, clothes they wear, and even the bags carried. These factors are typically seen by the police as a typical gang affiliation appearance.

Research Evidence

According to Saggar et al., (2012: 67), the perceptions of communities are based on their views of public services. Therefore, the stop and search policy in England and Wales provides a critical interaction between the youth and police and becomes the only point of reference informing their perceptions towards the police. Consequently, the first encounter that does not just impact police-youth relations in a manner that accelerates caution and negative feelings towards the police. The latter results in reduced crime incapacitation capabilities. Logic dictates that the youth of Black or Asian origin being closely monitored are likely to be caught breaking the law. For example, if the Black teen is stopped and searched more frequently, he or she is expected to be arrested for illegal activities when compared to another youth of Caucasian origin with the same behaviour (Wortley and Owusu-Bempah 2011:403). Therefore, the disproportionate racial representation by the police in stop and searches misrepresents particular communities in the criminal justice system. By also exposing the youth of distinct racial or ethnic identity with the criminal justice system, the chances of reoffending are in the future are increased.

The effectiveness of stop and search policy is questioned by Lustgarten, (2002:20), who believes the system is ineffective and a waste of police resources that could be used in implementing better crime-solving strategies. The notion is also supported by the research of carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary. According to HMIC, only nine per cent 2011/2012 stop and searches resulted in an arrest. This is a representation of over 1.2 million stop and searches conducted in England and Wales during 2011/2012 (Travis, 2013). Additionally, nearly fifty per cent of the searches were on the ground of low-level drug possession (HMIC, 2013: 47).

Moreover, the research does not incorporate the subsequent attrition occurring naturally after an arrest. The latter depicts that the overall effectiveness of stop and search may even be lesser than nine per cent. These figures offer minimal support for the policy as the prevention of violent crimes such as gang shootings among the youth.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) sought to put the stop and search policy on a new perspective that entails balance police power with individual rights. The power for searches was nationally extended on the basis that they will conform to the new safeguards such as the reasonable standardising ground of suspicion which requires the officers to explain the search and also a written record of the reasons and outcomes made to the person searched. The new legislation, however, has not managed to eliminate the controversy related to stop and searches. The policy has continued to highlight ethnic disparity with the communities viewing stop and search practice an ethnic stereotyping practice. The government statistics of the years 2007 to 2008 published by the ministry of justice, (2009:8), suggest that the black people in England and Wales were eight times more likely to be searched compared to the white. The evidence was dominant in London which represented a striking 35% of overall searches in England and Wales. Eighty per cent of searches in London were comprised of blacks (Ministry of Justice 2009:8). Biased-based policing in Stop and Search policy among the ethnic groups perceived to be hated and discriminated by the police results in youth hating, feeling angry and being afraid of the police. Such consequences limit criminal incapacitation by resulting in an increase in violent crimes among the youth.

The stop and search policy also offers immunity to police criminal behaviour. Considering the case of sixteen years olds Basil Khan and Omar Mohidin who were hit and abused by the officers Edgware Road, London in 2007, the police involved were acquitted in a criminal trial held in 2009. Khan and Mohidin, in turn, were awarded damages (BBC News, 2015). The officers had claimed that the research was conducted due to drug-related suspicion. Failing to hold the police accountable depicts the inadequacies of bodies such as Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in ensuring the conduct of the police officers does not violate the "Pace Code A" requirements which are aimed at restricting officers from utilizing stereotypic images or racial generalizations as part of their stop and search justification (hunch). Therefore, such guidelines of the search and stop policy have a minimal legal force which is rarely pursued. The reluctance to implement disciplinary actions and disproportionality in the case of Omar and Mohidin justifies the unreasonable extent of such police action which raises the question whether the stop and search policy aims to legitimise rather than restrain poor policing activities. The case also shows how the refusal of consent for a top and search can be turned into suspicion resulting in arrest or violation of individual rights through aggressive treatment. The negative impact of aggression and rudeness showed to the youth extend to their peers, family members and their communities (City of London Police, n.d.: 4).

Stop and search policy also fails to uphold the critical role of policing which is to protect the vulnerable groups in the society such as the youth, religious groups, mentally unstable individuals and the physically disabled. The politics or race and otherness are ultimately linked to the politics of death. Racial superiority limits the extent to which respect and privacy considerations. The treatment of Omar and Mohidin shows the lack of human bond between the two young men and the domestic occupying force "police" (Mbembe 2013: 24). Age vulnerability is seen as a critical component in the decision to inflict punishment to the young men. The young men were considered to be disrespectful to the officers. The decision by the officers to force Basil Khan to kneel in the back of the police van and choke Khan showcases the role played by age vulnerability in consideration for the administration of such punishment. The two young men did not know their rights regarding stop and searched and were exposed to discriminating racial conditions and severe penalty for an essential public order offence - the fact that the policy fosters ground for discrimination aga...

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Paper Example on Protecting the Youth From Challenges of Stop and Search Policies. (2022, Oct 13). Retrieved from

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