Black schoolboy was stopped and searched 60 TIMES in two years

Black schoolboy was stopped and searched 60 TIMES in two years, report finds as watchdog urges police chiefs to overhaul powers

  • The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) wants changes to be made
  • The IOPC says the teenager was sometimes searched more than once a day 
  • A police watchdog report urged forces not to use handcuffs as standard
  • It said on one occasion a 12-year-old boy wearing a plaster cast was handcuffed 

A black schoolboy was stopped and searched by police more than 60 times in just two years, a report has found as the police watchdog urges chiefs to overhaul how it is used.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says the teenager was sometimes searched more than once a day between between the ages of 14 and 16.

In another case a 12-year-old boy who was wearing a plaster cast on one arm was handcuffed by a police officer while running an errand for his mother. 

It comes as it released a review of stop and search powers which urged police chiefs to address the disproportionate impact the measures have on ethnic minority groups. 

The IOPC made a series of recommendations aimed at stopping the unequal targeting of black, Asian and other ethnic minority groups.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has urged chiefs to overhaul how stop and search is used. Pictured are two police recruits enacting a stop and search role play at a workshop in London

According to figures in the report, in the year to March 2021 black people were seven times more likely to be stopped and searched than white, while Asian people were two-and-a-half times more likely.

IOPC lead on discrimination Sal Naseem said: ‘We are concerned about the impact of stop and search on ethnic minority groups, in particular the negative effect it can have on public confidence in policing.

‘It cannot be underestimated how traumatic a stop and search encounter can be on an individual. If carried out insensitively, a person can be left feeling humiliated and victimised.

‘The experience can also be the first interaction for some young adults and if it is a negative one, this can have a lasting impact on that person and the trust they put in the police.

‘It is time to break the cycle.

‘The challenge for police forces is to build bridges with those in communities who feel marginalised so those same people feel confident in coming to police when needed.’

What the IOPC is recommending 

  • The National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing draw up new guidelines to stop people from ethnic minorities being searched or subject to use of force ‘because of decision-making based upon assumptions, stereotypes and racial bias’
  • That the two bodies and the Home Office commission research into trauma caused by the incorrect use of stop and search
  • The ethnicity and gender of people subject to traffic stops should be recorded to see if the powers are disproportionately used against certain groups
  • Officers’ individual stop and search records should be regularly reviewed
  • Police chiefs should make sure their officers know they are obliged to challenge inappropriate behaviour by colleagues during stop and searches.


The IOPC said that force, in particular handcuffs, must not be used as standard during searches.

It highlighted one example where a 12-year-old boy with a plaster cast on one arm was handcuffed while out running an errand for his mother.

The child was restrained within 20 seconds of the officer leaving his patrol car.

The IOPC called on police chiefs to ‘reduce their officers’ reliance on the smell of cannabis alone’ when deciding whether to carry out a search.

It also said the Home Office should review what are considered reasonable grounds for suspicion for cannabis possession, and whether any changes are needed to police powers.

Current guidelines say it is not good practice for an officer to rely on one factor alone when deciding whether to search someone, particularly if it is difficult to attribute to one person.

But in its report, published today, the IOPC said: ‘In some of our investigations, the smell of cannabis has either formed the sole grounds given for a stop and search, or it has been the main reason for suspicion alongside either weak, non-specific concerns about behaviour, or vague intelligence relating to geographical location.

‘These examples reinforce an often-held perception that the smell of cannabis is being used as an excuse to conduct a stop and search, especially when no cannabis is then found on the individual.’

Police in England and Wales carried out 695,009 stop and searches in the year to March 2021, 77 per cent of which resulted in no further action.

Although forces often cite the powers as useful for taking weapons off the streets, 478,576 of the searches were for drugs, up 36 per cent on the previous year.

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