Smith 'to extend stop and search'

Smith to cut police paperwork
Smith to cut police paperwork

The police's powers to stop and search people will be extended, the home secretary is set to announce.

Jacqui Smith is reportedly planning to cut bureaucracy surrounding police stop and searches as part of a bid to tackle rising gun and knife crime.

The move follows a review of policing by Sir Ronnie Flanagan, who recommended paperwork be radically slimmed down to allow more contact time on the streets.

Cabinet yesterday reportedly accepted many of its findings and the home secretary is set to issue new guidance for police.

Under present rules, police officers must record all details of stop and searches. Ministers are considering changing this to allow officers to conduct more random stop and searches with a simple explanation to suspects.

Similar measures are already in place in high crime areas but could now be rolled out across the country.

Since the Macpherson inquiry, which investigated institutional racism in the police, officers have been required to record all searches and critics argue any extension in stop and search will disproportionately affect ethnic minorities.

However, arguing for greater police powers today, David Cameron rejected this concern.

The Conservative leader argued the police are no longer racist so there is less risk in extending powers.

Moreover, he maintained black and Asian teenagers are overrepresented as victims of crime so would benefit from any crackdown on gun and knife crime.

Writing in the Sun newspaper he promised to abolish the current restrictions on stop and search as part of efforts to reduce violent crime.

He said: "This is a moment in our history when we have to wake up, sit up and have massive social, political and cultural change.

"We are never going to deal with it unless we free the police to do far more stopping and far more searching. I am quite clear the current rules have to go."


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.