Priti Patel has written to police forces lifting restrictions on the use of stop and search without having reasonable grounds. ‘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.
According to a report in the Guardian, the changes extend the length of time the powers can be in force from 15 to 24 hours and the period a section 60 can be extended to is now 48 hours, having previously been 39 hours. Liberty and StopWatch recently pointed out in a letter to Patel that black people are ‘up to 18 times more likely than white people to be subjected to “suspicionless” stop and search’; and that the controversial Section 60 had no real effect on knife crime with only 1% of searches resulted in a weapon being found.
According to Patel, the use of stop and search has increased by about 85% since 2019 and contributed to 50,000 weapons being taken off the streets. She wrote: ‘I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work to drive down knife crime by making it easier for officers to use these powers to seize more weapons, arrest more suspects and save more lives.’