Police officers met fail to properly record reasons for stop and search, critical report finds

The Metropolitan Police are not properly recording stop and search grounds, according to a critical report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Some 75% of all checks carried out between October 2020 and September 2021 had reasonable grounds recorded, following a review by the inspectorate, which is below expectations.

This reflects a decline from the findings of a previous review conducted in 2020, where 78% of encounters had reasonable grounds recorded, and makes it more difficult for the public to review such incidents.

“Officers filling out the records must provide enough information about them to justify why they used their power to stop and search someone,” the report said.

“A record should be specific and detailed enough for someone else to judge whether a reasonable person with the same information would have carried out a stop and search. Accurate recording of encounters allows for scrutiny by supervisors and the public.

It comes after the Met Police were placed under special measures in June following a litany of systemic failures.

A number of scandals have hit the force in recent months, from the murder of Sarah Everard and embarrassing stop and search incidents, including that of athlete Bianca Williams and Ricardo Dos Santos, to the disproportionate strip searches of black children such as Child Q and racist and offensive WhatsApp messages exchanged between officers at Charing Cross Police Station.

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Met Police officer Jonathon Cobban and former PC Joel Borders were found guilty by the City of London Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday of sending grossly offensive misogynistic and racist messages in a WhatsApp group with the killer of Sarah Everard , Wayne Couzens.

The Met, which is the UK’s largest police force, needs to improve its recording of equality data, the HMICFRS report also found.

In reviewing data on crime victims, the Gendarmerie found that age and gender were generally well recorded, while ethnicity and other protected characteristics were often not recorded adequately.

Thus, the extent to which each protected characteristic is affected by the crime is not always understood and duly taken into account.

Moreover, the recording of crimes by force is not of an acceptable standard to ensure that victims get the right level of service, the HMICFRS report concluded.

In the past three months alone, two black men have died at the hands of Met Police officers: Oladeji Omishore and Chris Kaba, both unarmed at the time.

Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigators are looking into whether race was a factor in the killing of Mr Kaba by Met Police on September 5.

The 24-year-old died following a car chase in Streatham, south London, sparking widespread protests across the UK.

Chris Kaba, 24, was killed on September 5 following a police chase of his car which ended in Streatham Hill, south London (PA)

(PA Media)

Data obtained from Scotland Yard by the Children’s Commissioner in August showed that some 650 children aged between 10 and 17 were strip searched by Met officers between 2018 and 2020; some 58% were black.

Two Met Police officers, Pc Sukhdev Jeer and Pc Paul Hefford, were sacked in July after posting offensive messages in a group chat, including a racist joke about the Duchess of Sussex.

A serving Met officer, PC Thomas Phillips, has been accused of sending racist WhatsApp messages, The Independent revealed this week.

A dedicated command is also needed to “bridge the trust gap between the police and the black community”, the HMICFRS recommended.

Confidence in the police services among this group is at an all time low, Studies showand the gendarmerie itself acknowledged this in its last report.

A study by Yougov found that ethnic minority Britons show an eight point drop in trust levels since last year (from 52% to 44%), and it is even lower among black respondents (from 42% to 37%) .

Brandon D. James