Stop and search findings 'worry for the community' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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A senior advisor of a Waltham Forest youth group has said 'positive' reforms to stop and search should have come sooner
A member of a Waltham Forest youth group has said major reforms to stop and search powers should have come sooner.
Home secretary Theresa May intends to revise the Police and Criminal Evidence Act Code of Practice to make clear what constitutes "reasonable grounds for suspicion" when stopping members of the public.
The announcement made last week follows a consultation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, which found 27 per cent, or more than 250,000, stops could have been illegal.
Official figures also showed that people from the black of ethnic minority community are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched and 10 per cent of stops nationally result in an arrest.
Simone Darling, 21, from Chingford, is a senior member of the borough's Youth Independent Advisory Group (YIAG).
YIAG works with the police and the council to shape community safety policy and has previously carried out reports into the lack of public trust in policing.
Ms Darling said: "I feel it is worrying how the police, who are the people supposed to protect and look after the community, did a quarter of a million illegal searches.
"Are they really doing right by the community?
"I feel that Theresa May’s reforms are a positive step in the right direction, although I feel it could’ve come sooner.
"Also how would the police or those monitoring them know searches are being done properly in future if no one complains?
"We need to make sure the community’s views on the police are positive so they feel comfortable to come forward and make complaints, particularly where they’ve had a negative experience."
According to YIAG research in 2013, 95 per cent of the 174 young people surveyed who described having a negative stop and search experience had not made a complaint and 90 per cent felt nothing would be done if they complained.
The main changes proposed include making arrangements for public scrutiny of all forces so the police can be held to account, and an assessment of officers' fitness to use stop and search powers.
Speaking in Parliament last week, Theresa May said: "Nobody wins when stop and search is misapplied.
"It is a waste of police time. It is unfair, especially to young black men and is bad for public confidence in the police.
"The proposals I have outlined amount to a comprehensive package of reform. I believe that they should contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search, better and more intelligence-led stop and search and improved stop-to-arrest ratios.
"But I want to make myself absolutely clear: if the numbers do not come down, if stop and search does not become more targeted, if those stop-to-arrest ratios do not improve considerably, the government will return with primary legislation to make these things happen."
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