THE location of police stop and searches carried out in the city will now be digitally mapped to increase transparency.
West Mercia Police will be the first force in England and Wales to digitally map the location of stop and searches during a pilot, due to start in the autumn.
The pilot, which will run to the end of the year before being rolled out nationally in 2015, will use geo-mapping technology to record information and accurately locate where stops and searches take place.
Data will be added to the popular crime maps on Police.uk, allowing people to monitor their use.
From today, stop and search data will also be available on data.police.uk. The additional information which forces will capture as a result of the pilot will be published online in due course.
David Shaw, chief constable of West Mercia Police,said: “Where these powers are used proportionately and fairly they have an important role to play in helping to keep our communities safe.
“However, West Mercia Police has long recognised that more needs to be done to improve the use of stop and search, which includes addressing the numbers of black and ethnic minority people searched by our officers.
“We have already introduced new methods of stop and search and have been praised in HMIC reports but we are now leading the way with this pilot that will increase transparency and allow the public to monitor progress.”
Today, the Home Secretary Theresa May also launched the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search.
It will also deliver better and more intelligence-led stop and search and improve stop-to-arrest ratios as well as provide people with more information on the outcome of searches.
Over the coming weeks, West Mercia Police is working to implement the scheme to increase transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome.
It will also look to restrict the use of Section 60 ‘no suspicion’ powers.
According to the force, s60 is already used only when necessary and a chief officer must make the decision whether to authorise the use of such powers.
In cases where the chief officer anticipates serious violence, that officer must reasonably believe that violence “will” rather than “may” take place, as it stands now.
The pilot also aims to give people the opportunity to observe stop and search in practice and introduce a community complaints trigger.
Home Secretary, Theresa May said: “Nobody wins when stop and search is misused, it can be an enormous waste of police time and damage the relationship between the public and police.
“That is why I’m delighted that West Mercia Police has committed to reforming their use of stop and search by volunteering for the Best Use of Stop and Search scheme and have agreed to pilot stop and search mapping in their force area.
“This scheme and pilot will increase transparency, give us a better understanding of how stop and search is actually being used, and help communities hold the police to account for the use of their powers.”
The Home Office has also launched a consultation on revising the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Code A.
The consultation on the code, which governs the police’s use of stop and search, will last eight weeks.