The number of stop and searches carried out in Barking and Dagenham is decreasing

Police carrying out a stop and search operation.

Police carrying out a stop and search operation. - Credit: Archant

The number of stop and searches in Barking and Dagenham is decreasing at a time when it is being lauded as an effective crime prevention tactic by top officials, Met figures reveal.

There were 131 stop and searches carried out in August compared to 441 last October. Between October and November there was a sharp drop off to 278, and from then on there has been a steady overall decrease.

Meanwhile between August 2016 and August 2017 the number of reported crimes rose from 1,460 to 1,601. This is in addition to a spate of high profile murders, stabbings and acid attacks.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas said: “It is concerning that at a time of rising violent crime - particularly moped gangs and knife incidents - that the number of police stop and searches has fallen.

“We need to be assured that frontline resources are being properly targeted and I will be raising this matter with the Tri-Borough Commander.”

The decreasing use of controversial stop and search powers does not reflect official advice being handed down to police officers.

Speaking to BBC Asian Network in August, Met commissioner Cressida Dick said: “We have probably had a 20 per cent increase [in knife crime] in the last year and that is not acceptable to me, so I am encouraging my officers to do stop and search as one of many things that will help to bring this number down.

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Body-worn cameras could help police feel protected from accusations of unfairness and racism, she added. Her comments were supported by home secretary Amber Rudd.

Steve Thompson, chair of the Barking and Dagenham Safer Neighbourhood Board, raised the issue with officers at a meeting last week.

“It seems strange that at a time when crime is getting worse these figures are going down,” he said.

Since the experimental police merger with Redbridge and Havering, The Post has reported that key indicators of performance suggest overall standards have suffered - although the sharpest drop-off happened before the trial’s start.

Of those searched, 2,072 were men and 122 were women. 1,121 were white, 596 were black and 454 were of Asian descent.

People of Asian descent were the most likely to be stopped and searched, with 1.5 pc of the group being subject to a search in Barking and Dagenham. This is followed by 1.4 pc of black people and 1 pc of white people.

A Met spokeswoman said: “Stop and search remains a hugely important police power for protecting Londoners, tackling crime and keeping our streets safe.

“Stop and search must be used in a fair and effective way that supports public confidence and is independently scrutinised. Over the past few years we have changed the way we use stop and search, it is now used far less and is much more effective. Complaints have reduced by over 60 pc.

“Between March and July, where stop and search has been used in Barking and Dagenham, there has been an average 36 pc positive outcome; which is above the MPS average.”