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Patterns and trends in stop and search: findings from the British Crime Survey and police statistics

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posted on 04.12.2015 by Faiza Qureshi
The British Crime Survey (BCS) and police statistics are used to analyse problems and trends in Stop and Search on a national, regional and local level. The thesis presents the first analysis of the BCS relating to Stop and Search covering a twenty-five year period. Qualitative information is also presented in support of the statistical findings. The information is from the researcher's contacts and experience with practitioners. The BCS was analysed with the intention of commenting on: the patterns and trends in the police tactic over time; the demographic variables of Stop and Search suspects; and the extent to which the same suspects are involved in repeated Stop incidents (repeat suspects). Police statistics from a Southern County are analysed and compared to the BCS at the regional level. This is in addition to offering an analysis on: the distribution of Stop and Search activity over three years at the regional level; and looking at the policy implications of extended police Stop and Search powers under Part One of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) 2003 in a selected Southern English Town. This research identifies a number of substantive and methodological findings. Methodological changes made to the BCS have impacted upon the number of Stops and Searches over time. The Survey also shows that age and gender discrimination in the application of the police tactic is more consistent over time than racial discrimination. Repeat Stops have become increasingly concentrated upon the same suspects (repeat Stops). Here, a majority of repeat Stops were experienced by a small number of Blacks and Asians. The comparative analysis of police records and the BCS highlighted the vacuum that existed between the two data sources. The research identifies the limitations in using to the look at the distribution of Stops and Searches by police service area. The use of the police tactic in a Southern English Police Service Area shows its inequitable implementation against certain groups. Looking at the specific cultural background of persons Stopped and Searched does not show a clear pattern of discrimination. That, is until the persons broad ethnic background is considered. The legislative impact of the CJA 2003 led to an increase in the number of encounters between the police and the public. Its crime reductive effect was through increasing arrests for criminal damage offences. The research has a number of implications for policing policy at the national scale. Suggestions for police strategies and management at the regional and local levels are also presented.



  • Social Sciences


  • Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies


© Faiza Qureshi

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.