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Improving the conduct of stop and
search
Dr Paul Quinton, NPIA
Prof Betsy Stanko, Metropolitan Police
Cmdr Tony Eastaugh, Metropolitan Police
www.npia.police.uk
Improving stop and search?
Effectiveness
Legitimacy
Fairness
www.npia.police.uk
Lawfulness
Stop and search levels
1.3m S&S
encounters
Source: Bradford 2012
www.npia.police.uk
Stop and search arrest rates
Source: Bradford 2012
www.npia.police.uk
Improving effectiveness?
• Limited & inconclusive evidence
• Arrest rate from PACE searches = 9%
•  S&S numbers =  arrest rate
• At force level, there is no association
between S&S rates & crime rates
• Focused policing activity in crime
hot spots can reduce crime
• Would better targeted S&S be more
effective? Would it affect fairness?
www.npia.police.uk
Improving lawfulness?
• Code A focuses on how to conduct a S&S, not when
• Reasonable suspicion is elastic & difficult to define
• The same standard is required for an arrest
• But observational research suggests some searches
are based on weak grounds
• Possible reasons?
–
–
–
–
–
–
Officer discretion & low visibility to supervisors
The law not reflecting the realities of policing
Decision-making based on practical rules-of-thumb
The specificity of suspect descriptions & intelligence briefings
Traditional class room based training
Few consequences
www.npia.police.uk
Improving fairness?
• Qualitative research suggests the public’s support
for S&S is conditional on:
– how S&S is used & targeted by the police
– the attitudes & behaviour of the officers involved
– the reasons for S&S being valid, genuine & credible
• Negative experiences were more common than
positive experiences & more easily remembered
• Key issues for the public:
– Experience of officers being patronising, arrogant, aggressive &
intimidating
– Not being given a reason for an encounter
– Feeling unfairly targeted
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
• Experiences of policing shape public motivations to
cooperate with police & not break the law
• Fair decision-making & respectful treatment can
enhance police legitimacy, which helps to:
– build a sense of shared values
– make people feel valued by & part of society
– create a sense of obligation & responsibility
• Unfair treatment sends out a clear message…
Our rules do not apply to you – you’re not a
valued member of society!
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
Why is fairness important?
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
National survey results
Risk of
sanction
Legitimacy
Trust in police
effectiveness
Obligation
to obey
Trust in police
fairness
Moral
alignment
with police
Compliance
&
cooperation
Personal
morality
www.npia.police.uk
The impact of S&S on trust
• The effect of police contact on trust is asymmetrical
• Bad contact is very bad
• Good contact is only a little bit good (at best)
Types of contact
Quality of contact
Effect on trust in police
fairness
Police-initiated
Positive
Neutral
Negative
Negative
Positive
Slightly positive
Negative
Negative
Public-initiated
www.npia.police.uk
The bottom line
• By making fair decisions, explaining them &
being respectful, the police can encourage
people to be more socially responsible
• This is not just about being nice!
• Fair encounters may not be enough – legacy issues
& the volume of police contact
• There are significant risks of being unfair
• ‘Trust arrives on foot & leave on horseback’
• What goes around, comes around – fairness at work
www.npia.police.uk
What might help?
• There are significant gaps in the evidence base
• Robust studies are needed to find out ‘what works’
• A newly formed NPIA / MPS collaboration to test an
intervention aimed at improving the conduct of S&S
– Scripted encounters?
 Queensland random breath test experiment
– Practice based & reflective learning?
 Chicago quality interaction training experiment
 GMP / NPIA victim contact training experiment
– More active supervision?
– Better targeting towards crime hot spots?
www.npia.police.uk