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Thousands more people stopped and searched in Hackney but fewer perpetrators caught

PUBLISHED: 13:59 01 February 2020 | UPDATED: 13:59 01 February 2020

Police have doubled down on the use of stop and search in London. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

Police have doubled down on the use of stop and search in London. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

PA Archive/PA Images

The number of on-the-spot searches by police in Hackney skyrocketed in 2019 – but officers caught fewer people carrying anything of note.

Last year Metropolitan Police officers used their powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1989 to stop and search members of the public 10,536 times in Hackney.

The figure is a steep rise on the 6,102 incidents recorded the year before, and comes after 10 years of steady decline in use of the controversial power.

But at the same time, police use of the power became less effective.

Just 25.5 per cent of searches in 2019 led to some kind of action being taken, compared to 31.5 per cent the year before.

Officers carry out a stop and search on a man who avoided going through a knife arch. Picture: John Stillwell/PA WireOfficers carry out a stop and search on a man who avoided going through a knife arch. Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Last year 1,413 people in Hackney were arrested as a result of a search, and another 114 were given a penalty charge or court summons.

In that time officers searched people for drugs 5,245 times and caught 1,402 people carrying them.

Another 245 people were carrying knives or bladed weapons. On 17 occasions, the person they searched was carrying a gun.

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A Met Police spokeswoman said: "Tackling violence is the number one priority for the Metropolitan Police Service.

"One homicide, one stabbing, one violent incident is one too many.

"The rise in stop and search is a response to the increase in levels of violence and is part of our ongoing efforts to prevent crime, reduce injuries and save lives."

Across London uses of stop and search by the Met have soared from 151,509 in 2018 to 268,432 in 2019. But at the same time, the number of searches that led to no further action increased from 71 to 75 per cent.

Katrina Ffrench, CEO of UK-wide charity StopWatch, said the organisation was "concerned" by the rise.

She added: "In reality [stop and search] is mostly used for low-level drugs offences.

"Police are adamant that stop and search saves lives, but we have argued that actually when over-used, it breaks down trust and confidence in communities."

In Hackney the majority of those searched - on 5,595 occasions - were described by police as black, even though the proportion of white people who were found carrying something of note was the same: 24 per cent for both groups.

Ms Ffrench added: "The grounds used to stop black people seem to be at a lower threshold and the ethnic disparity has been there all along."

In response the Met said stop and search was carried out based on "intelligence", adding: "Knife crime and street violence in the capital disproportionately affects boys and young men, particularly of African-Caribbean heritage, in terms of victims and perpetrators."

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