Priti Patel to restore police stop-and-search powers to combat epidemic of knife crime and violence

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel will announce today that she will lift 2014 restrictions
  • Officers will be able to carry out so-called ‘Section 60’ searches for wider uses
  • Likely to be controversial as ethnic minorities are far more likely to be stopped

Police stop-and-search powers are to be restored in a bid to combat an epidemic of knife crime and violence on Britain’s streets. 

Home Secretary Priti Patel will announce today that she will lift restrictions which have been in place since 2014. 

It means officers will be able to carry out so-called ‘Section 60’ searches in a wider range of circumstances. 

The move will be controversial because ethnic minorities are already far more likely to be stopped and searched. 

But Miss Patel said the move would help police tackle knife crime and other serious violence.

Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured last week) will announce today that she will lift restrictions on the powers which have been in place since 2014. It means officers will be able to carry out so-called ‘Section 60’ searches in a wider range of circumstances

‘The devastating impact of knife crime on families who have lost their loved one is unbearable,’ she added. 

‘No one should have to endure the pain and suffering of the victims of these appalling crimes and we have a responsibility to them to do everything in our power to prevent future tragedies.’ 

London had a record 30 teenage killings last year, most as a result of knife crime. 

The Home Secretary added: ‘Since 2019, the police have removed over 50,000 knives and offensive weapons from our streets and in the two years to March 2021, over 150,000 arrests were made following stop and search, preventing thousands of possible fatal injuries.

‘I stand wholeheartedly behind the police so that they can build on their work to drive down knife crime by making it easier for officers to use these powers to seize more weapons, arrest more suspects and save more lives.’

Although stabbings fell by four per cent overall last year in England and Wales, widespread concern remains about the fatal use of blades on the streets.

London saw a record 30 teenage homicides last year, most as a result of knife crime. The youngest victim was just 14.

Section 60 searches, first introduced in 1994, allow officers to stop and search people in the street if they anticipate serious violence may take place.

The move will be controversial because ethnic minorities are already far more likely to be stopped and searched. But Miss Patel said the move would help police tackle knife crime and other serious violence. Pictured, a policeman in Liverpool using stop and search

The move will be controversial because ethnic minorities are already far more likely to be stopped and searched. But Miss Patel said the move would help police tackle knife crime and other serious violence. Pictured, a policeman in Liverpool using stop and search 

Theresa May introduced restrictions on Section 60 when she was home secretary in 2014, amid concern at the time that it was being used disproportionately.

Miss Patel will announce the lifting of those restrictions in a letter to chief constables today.

As a result more officers will be able to authorise the use of the powers in a broader set of circumstances, and they will be allowed to stay in place for a longer period of time.

‘This will give officers full operational flexibility and the confidence they need to use the tool, helping rid the streets of dangerous weapons and save lives,’ a Home Office spokesman said.

In a further move, Miss Patel will today launch a consultation to make it easier for officers to search known knife carriers.

Police forces in England and Wales this week launch Operation Sceptre, a week of intensive action to combat knife crime.

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