Number of police stop and searches in Barking and Dagenham has decreased rapidly

Police officers doing a stop and search. Picture: Ian Burt

Police officers doing a stop and search. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

The number of stop and searches carried out in Barking and Dagenham has fallen by almost two-thirds in one year, Met figures reveal.

This is in spite of Met commissioner Cressida Dick and home secretary Amber Rudd saying stop and search is an effective crime prevention tactic that should be more widely used.

In February 2017 there were 157 stop and search operations carried out in the borough. A year later in February 2018 there were just 59, a decrease of 62 per cent year-on-year.

Whilst there has been a London-wide decrease in stop and search over the same period it has been much less drastic. Year-on-year to February there has been a 13 pc decrease.

There was a spike in the number of stop and searches in Barking and Dagenham in October 2017 - the same month the Post published a story highlighting the falling numbers of stop searches.

However since then there has been a sharp drop in the number of stop and searches.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge said: “Stop and search is an important tool for out local police force but it needs to be used within limits.

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“In the past, we have seen certain groups of people - often young, black men - being targeted for stop and search. If the drop in the number of stop and searches is because it is no longer being used so discrimately, then that can only be a good thing.

“But if not, the drop is deeply worrying in light of the latest cases of knife crime we have seen in other boroughs.”

Speaking to the BBC in June, Met commissioner Cressida Dick said: “Stop search properly used is a very powerful tool for my officers. I want them to be confident to use it. Of course they must be courteous, they must use it lawfully, we use intelligence to stop those people who we know are habitually carrying knives.

“I think the public would expect us to do that and I have had lots of support for the comments I have made.”

A Met spokeswoman said: “Stop and search remains a hugely important police power for protecting Londoners, tackling crime and keeping our streets safe. It is an important power - especially in relation to tackling knife crime, resulting in over 3,000 arrests for weapon possession and for taking several thousand weapons off the streets of London each year.

“The primary purpose of stop and search is to enable officers to either allay or confirm their suspicions about an individual without having to arrest them.

“Effectiveness must therefore reflect where suspicion has bee allayed and an unnecessary arrest, which is more intrusive, has been avoided - or where suspicion has been confirmed and the object is found or a relevant crime is detected.

“Stop and search is just one of a number of powers and tactics used by officers - tactics include centrally led operations, weapons sweeps, targeted test purchasing and plain clothes policing operations to tackle those who choose to carry knives.”