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Use, Effectiveness and Impact of Police Stop and Search Powers

NCJ Number
C F Willis
Date Published
45 pages
Police in four English police agencies surveyed (two metropolitan and two provincial) have wide discretion in stop and search procedures and conduct about twice the number of stops as statistics have recorded.
Blacks, particularly young males, are much more likely to be stopped and searched by police than whites. Nevertheless, the proportion of persons stopped who are subsequently prosecuted is the same for blacks as for whites. The percentage of arrests resulting from typical stops is much lower than for other stops, particularly for controlled drugs. Metropolitan police make more arrests from stops than provincial forces, although arrests for serious offenses are less likely to follow from stops. Because high rates of stopping or searching can damage police-community relations, it is suggested that police formally record all searches and informally record those stops that the public resents so as to monitor their effects on community relations. Footnotes and statistical tables are supplied. Appendixes present relevant legislation, 32 references, and a list of Home Office research reports.