Police commander defends stop and search as "vital tool" in tackling street violence

Commander Barnett hopes improved communication will help reduce tensions between police and the comm

Police commander Marcuss Barnett defends the use of Stop and Search in Hackney and across London. - Credit: Mike Brooke

Hackney’s BCU Commander has defended the Met’s use of stop and search after a local councillor spoke out against the tactic.

Dalston councillor Soraya Adejare raised the issue by alleging racial profiling by police officers during a Living in Hackney Scrutiny Commission last month (June 22).

One change proposed by the council, but turned down by Met police commanders, was to introduce performance targets in a bid to weed out potentially discriminative officers.

But Hackney’s BCU Commander Det Ch Sup Marcus Barnett said performance indicators for stop and search can drive “perverse outcomes”.

He said: “I don’t want people stopped because officers are trying to reach a target of their performance.

“But what I expect is for officers to have professional curiosity, to be intelligence-led, very much aware of the benefits and the use of stop and search."

He says the police tactic is a “vital tool” for police and is well-monitored with nearly all interactions now recorded on body-worn video footage.  

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

According to the Met's crime dashboard, most Stop and Searches resulting in a positive outcome involve drugs. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

However, members of the Living in Hackney scrutiny commission demanded changes in April after figures revealed just one in five searches produced evidence of criminality.

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The Met stop and search dashboard revealed a decrease in the number of positive outcomes since February despite the BCU Commander reporting an “improving picture” across London as a whole.

A positive outcome is a search which results in police finding something relevant on a person such as a weapon or drugs or an arrest.

The Met Stop and Search crime dashboard showing data on positive outcomes. 

The Met Stop and Search crime dashboard showing data on positive outcomes. - Credit: Metropolitan Police

In Hackney, for all searches with a positive outcome, drugs were most commonly found with more than 1,400 instances from May 2020-21. Over the same period, searches within the borough resulted in 209 weapons, points and blades offences and 22 firearms offences.

There are about 400 knives and weapons taken off streets across London every month.

The commander added: “I think the tactic is strong in taking knives and weapons off the streets and we are arresting numbers of people through stop and search.

"Yes of course we would like to be ever improving around it, we would like to be getting much higher positive outcomes, of course we would. As I said, I think its an improving picture."