By Joy Noble for Talking Drugs. Stop and searches may be decreasing in England and Wales, but those carried out for drugs are on the rise as a proportion of the overall figure. Can the police still reasonably say this power is being used to tackle violent crime?
According to the latest Home Office data, police carried out 539,788 stop and searches under section 1 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984 in England and Wales during the year ending March 31, 2015. This marks a dramatic decrease of 40 percent compared to the 2013/14 period and is the largest year-on-year fall.
The number of drug-related stops and searches under section 1 also fell (34 percent) but less significantly than for other reasons. As a result, drug-related stop and searches as a proportion of the overall number increased to 59 percent.
Sadly, this trend is far from new; the proportion of drug-related stop and searches has been on the increase since 2006/7 when it constituted 42 percent of the overall figure. Alarmingly, the proportion of stop and searches carried out for stolen property and offensive weapons decreased on the year by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.