Following rules introduced by the Home Secretary a package of reforms (Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme) were put in place in response to concerns about police compliance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 Code of Practice A.
It was intended that the reforms should contribute to a significant reduction in use of stop and search, a more intelligence-led use of the practice and improved stop to arrest ratios.
Hertfordshire Constabulary signed up to the scheme to put in place a range of measures to ensure better compliance with the Act, including the scrutiny of stop and search records by the communities they serve.
By signing up to the measures, the aim is for a more focused and intelligent-led approach to stop and search will develop, resulting in a higher arrest rate, and a targeting of those engaged in serious criminality.
It should also lead to a greater proportion of stop and search for acquisitive crime, rather than low level drugs possession.
If you have any comments or observations about stop and search in Hertfordshire and would like to provide feedback, please find an anonymous feedback form here, alternatively you can submit a complaint to Hertfordshire Constabulary here.
The Home Secretary advised that the responsibility for external scrutiny should be owned and facilitated by those democratically charged with holding the police to account. In March 2015, Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner set up an independent scrutiny panel made up of members of the community from across the county to undertake scrutiny of Hertfordshire’s stop search practices. The panel is able to provide a voice for community concerns and help inform and influence police training and actions.
In February 2017, Commissioner David Lloyd welcomed a report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which confirms Hertfordshire Constabulary is meeting the requirements of the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme.
Hertfordshire was one of the first forces to sign up to the scheme and it has now been confirmed they are fully compliant with all aspects of it.
More information on how the community scrutiny panel was set up can found in the briefing note.
The Countywide Community Stop and Search Scrutiny Panel meet on a monthly basis for two and a half hours to discuss, monitor and scrutinise how Hertfordshire Constabulary are carrying out Stop and Search.
Wherever possible the Panel seeks to reflect the demographics of Hertfordshire, therefore to ensure diversity in membership it may be necessary for targeted positive action recruitment to be undertaken.
The panel undertake dip sampling (selecting records at random) of the Stop and Search forms in order to achieve greater transparency and involvement in the use of Stop and Search powers across Hertfordshire, and improve public confidence and trust in how the tactic is used. More recently the Panel have also begun to undertake scrutiny of body-worn camera footage.
The Terms of Reference provide a guiding framework for the Panel.
The ethnicity and geographical make up of the panel is as follows:
Gender Male: 11 Female: 7
Prefer not to say: 2
Ethnicity Black: 1 White : 14 Asian: 1 Mixed: 2
Prefer not to say: 2
District Representation Broxbourne: 3 Dacorum: 2 East Herts: 5 St Albans: 3 Stevenage: 1 Welwyn Hatfield: 1 Hertsmere: 2 Watford: 0 Three Rivers: 1
Prefer not to say: 2
To find out more about the role of Countywide Community Stop & Search Scrutiny Panel Volunteer please read the volunteer Role Profile and exploreMohammad Case Study
Please note that the role will require you to attend monthly meetings for approximately 2.5hrs in Hertfordshire, dates will be circulated in advance. There is an expectation that you will be able to commit to at least six of the twelve meetings held per year. In promoting consistency, we encourage your commitment to the role and in return travel expenses will be reimbursed. Councillors are welcome to apply.
If you would like any further information or have any questions regarding the Countywide Community Stop & Search Scrutiny Panel, please contact Sue McNeill, Partner & Panel Engagement Officer, at [email protected]