Drop in number of stop and search incidents

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The number of times police have used controversial stop and search powers in Wigan have dropped dramatically in the past few years, according to new figures.

Police forces have come under fire in the past for the ways in which they have used the powers, which allow them stop and search anyone if they suspect they are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that could be used to commit a crime.

The criticism has led to more training to officers around the powers and means just 179 stop and searches have been carried out in 2016 up to November 3. This is compared to 2,657 being carried out in total in 2013, 1,618 in 2014 and 614 in 2015, according to figures released under freedom of information laws.

Increased training has also led to more stop and searches resulting in an arrest.

In 2013, just 174 arrests resulted from a stop and search being carried out, just 6.5 per cent, compared to 24 up until November 3, 2016, 13 per cent.

In 2016, the most stop and searches were carried out because of controlled drugs, 69 in total, leading to nine arrests, followed by stolen good, 49, leading to four arrests.

Articles to use in theft accounted for 30 stop and searches, 30 leading to five arrests, and offensive weapons, 20 resulting in four arrests.

Chief Supt Shaun Donnellan of GMP’s Wigan borough, said: “Stop and search is a key tool in our fight against crime and, when used fairly and in an intelligence-led way, it can be extremely effective.

“Nationally and locally, officers have undertaken more training to ensure they have the confidence to use their powers of stop and search in order to tackle crime; identifying potential disproportionality and when alternative approaches should be explored.

“This will undoubtedly be contributing to the overall reduction in the amount of people stopped and searched in Wigan, as well as explaining why there has been a rise in arrests.

“There is also an increase in community engagement around the local use of stop and search and the development of engagement plans, which include consultation with local communities when authority for a Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act - an order authorised by an ACC to grant powers of stop and search without suspicion during a specific time and location where there is reason to believe serious disorder or violence will take place - is sought.

“We are dedicated to ensuring the best practise of stop and search and continuing to work with the communities in Wigan, and forcewide, to continue to build on the support, confidence and trust of local communities as well as welcoming feedback from those communities to gain organisational learning.”