Witnesses needed to check ‘stop and search’

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Members of the public in North Yorkshire can apply from today to witness stop and search powers being carried out by police in the county.

Under North Yorkshire Police’s Stop and Search Lay Observer Scheme, anyone can put themselves forward to accompany officers on patrol when they might deploy stop and search powers.

The force says its officers carry out about 20 stop searches per day and that these powers “are an effective policing tool to detect crime, recover property and arrest offenders”.

The force has adopted the Home Office Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, as part of which a new code of practice has been drawn up which will see the outcome of every stop and search recorded by police.

Forces around the country signed up to the scheme in a bid to combat criticism that the power is used too widely and that it disproportionately targets ethnic minorities.

Chief Inspector Mark Grange, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “By introducing ‘lay observation’, a process of two-way learning can take place, bringing the police closer to the public.

“Under this scheme the police have the opportunity to demonstrate their use of stop and search, while members of the public will be provided with the opportunity to see stop and search in action, and provide feedback based on their observations.

“I would encourage anyone interested in observing stop and search in action to visit our website to find out more.”

Earlier this month, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said a dramatic rise in stabbings in London is due to a reduction in stop-and-search checks on youths. Home Secretary Theresa May has championed the reining-in of police search powers.