TORY PM Johnson’s new police state measures allowing police unlimited stop and search powers have been condemned by Stopwatch, while Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott described them as a ‘recipe for unrest’.
In an article in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday newspapper, Johnson announced the removal of restrictions on using ‘Section 60’ stop and search.
Officers will now be able to use Section 60 without seeking the authorisation of a senior officer and now only need to believe that violence ‘may’ occur, not that it will.
In 2017-18, black people were 9.5 times more likely to be searched than white people.
Jonathan Hinds, who campaigns against stop and search, warned yesterday that black people are ‘targeted by these draconian powers’, adding that on one occasion he had been stopped three times within a mile by three different police officers.
All police forces across the country will now have the power to stop and search anyone in a designated area, without needing reasonable grounds for suspicion.
Stop and search numbers have more than doubled in the last two years.
Data from eight of the UK’s largest police forces shows that the use of stop and search doubled from 15,557 instances in March 2017 to 33,022 in March 2019.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said yesterday: ‘Stop and search works. We hear again and again that our police need to be empowered. And as we’re recruiting 20,000 more police officers we need them to be out making sure that those who want to do harm are prevented from doing harm.’
Shadow Home Secretary Abbott responded that ‘random stops have only poisoned police community relations’ and are a ‘tried and tested recipe for unrest’.
Katrina French, chief executive of Stopwatch, said: ‘What it’s actually going to do is harm the relationship between young people involved in serious youth violence.
‘And we already know historically, the black community has very little trust in the police.
‘So if we’re going to have suspicionless searches, I feel, rather than safeguarding, which is how the home secretary and I suppose the prime minister, to some extent, are packaging this, that “we’re protecting young people from young people”, what we’re going to do is form bad relationships between the police and young people.
‘So much so, that if they are victims of crime, they won’t report it.’
Johnson also announced in his newspaper article that he intends to create an extra 10,000 new prison places, while he is reportedly going to announce this week that prisoners will no longer be automatically released early after having served half their sentence.
Johnson acknowledged that the planned increase in prisoners will ‘in the short term … mean more pressure on our jails’.