The College of Policing is launching new guidelines on stop and search protocol today. Police will have to complete an online course and an exam which will test when they should use the powers and challenge any ‘unconscious bias’ they have.
The new online course and recording standards have been piloted in six force areas by around 1,300 officers. 80 percent of officers who took part said the training was either “good or excellent.”
The guidelines were formed in response to research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
This is the first time there has been a guideline review since the stop and search powers were introduced in 1984.
“What we are hoping is to do is to ensure that officers become aware of their own unconscious biases…so that when they make objective decisions about the exercise of a policing power those biases do not come into play,” said College of Policing spokesperson, Richard Bennett.
Stop and search has had a bad reputation since it has been used disproportionately against black people. Black people are still four times more likely to get stopped and searched than white people.
In her previous role as Home Secretary, Theresa May planned to pass new laws regulating stop and search.
“It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young, black men. It is bad for public confidence in the police,” said May in 2014.
Stop and search was thought to have exacerbated racial tensions and the discontent which fuelled the 2011 London riots is one example of how it can damage community relations when it is misapplied.
All police across England and Wales will start taking the course in the next few weeks with hopes that all 100,000 of them will have completed the training by the end of 2017.