Rise in stop and search in West Mercia with fewer arrests, figures show

West Mercia Police conducted over 1,200 more stop and searches last year though fewer led to an arrest, new figures show.

Home Office data shows officers used stop and search powers 6,042 times in the year to March – up from 4,785 the year before.

Despite this rise, the proportion of searches which led to an arrest fell from 18 to 13 per cent over this period.

Three in five stops were for drugs, which was up slightly on the previous year.

Police bosses say stop and search is a "vital tool" to protect people from harm and stops are carried out in line with rules and on "reasonable grounds".

It comes as StopWatch UK claims the vast majority of searches cause more problems than they solve.

Habib Kadiri, research and policy manager at the police monitoring organisation, said a fall in arrest rates – which has happened nationally – reflects fears that police-community relations are backsliding.

Chief Superintendent Beth Bridges, of West Mercia Police, said: “Stop and search helps officers in the prevention and detection of crime and the primary purpose of the powers is to enable officers to allay or confirm suspicions about individuals carrying unlawful items, without exercising their power of arrest, where the officer has reasonable grounds for carrying out a search.

“The rise in the number of stop and searches carried out by officers from West Mercia Police shown in these latest figures, reflects a similar rise nationally.

“Also, the positive outcome rate following a stop and search carried out by officers from West Mercia is higher than the national average, which offers reassurance that our officers are exercising these powers to good effect.

“We monitor our stop and search and welcome scrutiny to ensure these powers are fair, transparent and both appropriate and proportionate."

She said the police force had recently set up independent stop and search scrutiny panels with members from all demographic community groups to provide additional insight and feedback.

In Mid Wales, the data shows officers in Dyfed and Powys used stop and search powers 3,476 times in the year to March – up from 3,249 the year before.

The proportion of searches which led to an arrest rose from 15 to 18 per cent over that period.

Around four in five of the stops were for drugs – up from 72 per cent in 2019-20.

Across England and Wales, the number of stop and searches rose from 577,000 in 2019-20 to 704,000 in 2020-21.

But the national arrest rate fell from 13 to 11 per cent – the lowest level since 2012-13.

Across the two nations, 479,000 (68 per cent of all stops) were for drugs – the highest proportion since records began in 2006-07.

The Home Office said police used extra officers and resources to tackle drug crime during the coronavirus lockdown, and also removed almost 16,000 dangerous weapons from our streets.

A spokesman added: “No one should be targeted for stop and search because of their race and there are extensive safeguards in place to prevent this.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News