The police use of statutory stop and search powers is an ongoing cause for concern. Research evidence dating back a number of years suggests that the misuse of such powers is commonplace. It has long been recognised that the important relationship between the police and the communities which they serve can be severely damaged where innocent people are routinely stopped and searched for no good reason. The Home Secretary has recently announced in Parliament a package of reforms aimed at reducing the overall use of stop and search powers, ensuring that stops and searches are more intelligence-led, and improving the ratio between the number of encounters and arrests made. Significantly, the proposed reforms are largely voluntary in nature. Their content is therefore particularly important, as is their potential take-up by police forces. There are sound reasons for believing that they may be a prelude to legislative reform in this area of policing
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