Almost 5,000 complaints against the Met Police Force on the misuse of stop and search have been lodged since 2014, but only six officers were sanctioned out of the 17 who faced disciplinary measures.
Stop and search is a special police power where a uniformed police officer or a police community support officer can stop you if they notice anything suspicious about your actions. However, only the police officer is allowed to search you, your vehicle, or your possessions. They must present their warrant card or ID to you and should be allowed to conduct the search whether they are in uniform or not.
What happens during a stop and search?
The stop and search process should be quick and carried out professionally in public places. Officers can search anywhere, especially when the goal is to find drugs or firearms. They will require you to remove your coat or jacket and gloves, but nothing more. Religious clothing like turbans, veils, and face scarves do not need to be removed. The only reason for officers to disallow removal of such pieces of clothing is when there is threat of terrorism or when they believe you are in disguise.
Any officer must have probable cause that you are in possession of illegal narcotics, stolen goods, weapons, or other objects that can be used as weapons before they can perform a stop and search on you. The officers cannot make a decision based on your race or skin color.
They must first provide some information regarding their purpose, why you were singled out or why they were looking for you, the law that you allegedly violated, and that you have the right to be provided a copy of the form. This form will contain written accounts of the process, which can be emailed to you or which you can collect from them or their precinct.
They will then ask for your name, address, date of birth, and self-defined ethnicity. However, you are not obliged to give them these details unless they have determined that you have committed an offence.
The Met Police Force lead for stop and search Commander, Jane Connors, stands firm on her statement that the stop and search activities ensure the safety of Londoners while also removing lethal firearms from the streets. She adds that the Met has not become complacent but is actually committed to ensuring that police officers are professional, respectful, and courteous during each encounter.
Stop and search errors
An independent organisation that investigates police conduct submitted 11 recommendations to the Met in 2020, urging it to change its policies after multiple errors were made during stop and search operations.
In a research released in 2020, statistics indicated that officers stop black people nine times more often than someone who is white. In one incident, two brothers who were innocently fist-bumping were wrongly stopped and searched for suspicion of drug dealing.
Like the officers who wrongly accused the brothers, the six police constables who were recently disciplined misused their stop and search powers. Diane Abbott, Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said Met Police should know that they will be “properly dealt with” if they conduct stop and search operations incorrectly.
All in all, there were 786 complaints in 2019 and 1,744 in 2020. The number then multiplied to 5,000, with 748 recorded as Breach of Code A allegations covering years 2014 to 2020. The other recorded allegations were assault, oppressive behavior or harassment, rudeness, discriminatory behavior, and assault. Of the 990 actions against police in 2020 that were investigated by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, none were proven.
How to make police complaints
In the Sussex Police stop and search 2019/2020 annual report, Chief Constable Jo Shiner stressed that the fundamental goal of stop and search powers is to allow authorities to confirm or dispel suspicions about persons without having to use their power to arrest. These operations are meant to protect the public; however, without such powers, the police will face much tougher challenges in fulfilling their duties.
Any complaints or expressions of dissatisfaction to the actions of how Met PCs conduct their jobs can be raised directly to them through their feedback and complaints page. You can lodge a complaint if you experienced a wrongful stop and search or other misuse of police power yourself, or witnessed it committed towards somebody else.
If your complaint warrants an independent inquiry, the Met police force will reply swiftly or refer it to an independent complaints organisation. The inquiry is handled by the director general, regional director, or operations manager, depending on the gravity of the situation.
If all else fails and the Met police do not deal with your case fairly, there are police complaints experts who can help you file an action against the police claim .
Contact Claims Experts to help you get the justice you deserve against the mistreatment that the police force did to you.