MEMBERS of the public will be able to listen in and even accompany police officers as they ‘stop and search’ suspects in parts of Yorkshire.
West Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioner has admitted there is a perception ethnic minorities and young people are unfairly targeted by police in the county when ‘stop and search’ is carried out.
Officers in West Yorkshire carried out 35,000 stop and searches in the year to March, down from 42,000 in 2012, but 16 to 29s and those of Asian or black origin are still more likely than average to be stopped.
After signing up to a national ‘best use of stop and search’ scheme, West Yorkshire Police says its officers must contact their control room whenever they use the procedure.
Information about the search provided by the officer will be put directly onto a computer system, meaning information about the incident is available to be scrutinised later.
Police commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson says that from September there will be “better opportunities for members of the public to possibly even accompany police officers when these stops are being undertaken, or to have the opportunity to listen to the exchange over the radio”.
He said: “I recognise the perception of some sections of the community that have been stopped. It is important to note that the number of stop and searches has decreased recently. There is certainly a downward trend.
“The important thing is that when the police carry out stop and search, it has got to be proportionate, appropriate and there has to be a really good explanation as to why people are being stopped, or it does have a negative impact.”