The use of section 60 ‘stop and search’ powers rose five-fold last year. Figures obtained by Channel 4 News revealed that 7,328 section 60 orders were used in 2018, a 417% rise compared to the previous year. In the same period, there was almost a 15% rise in stop and searches, over 150,000 in total, and arrests were down in the same period by nearly 4%.
Section 60 stop and searches can take place in an area which has been authorised by a senior police officer on the basis of their reasonable belief that violence has or is about to occur. They were recently used in north east London following the murder of 14 year old Jaden Moodie. On the use of these powers, Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy said: ‘We’ve lost 213 police officers in the last couple of years due to the cuts in funding.’ She went on to add that stop and search was not going to ‘break the cycle’ of violence and that more help was needed through ‘intelligence led policing’.
Patrick Green, sitting on the Government’s Serious and Violent Crime Task Force, said policing was ‘not the answer to serious violence’ and that ‘we need to look far wider at the causes of violence if we really want to tackle it’.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police force said that ‘stop and search remains a hugely important police power for protecting Londoners and keeping our streets safe. It is extremely valuable in tackling knife and gun crime, resulting in over 4,200 arrests for weapon possession in the capital last year’.
A report from the Home Office on police powers published in October 2018 has shown that the use of stop and search has declined since 2009, but the recent rise in stop and search reflects a year in which knife and offensive weapon offences rose to their highest level since 2010.