Speaking in a debate on the police use of stop and search, Sir Mike Penning welcomes the introduction of intelligence-led, rather than random, stop and search but calls on police chiefs and the College of Policing to back the police officers on the beat and give them the confidence to use intelligence-led stop and search.
As the Policing Minister, I was part of the implementation to ensure that no matter what colour someone was, or what race or religion they were, they would not be disproportionately stopped and searched. I completely agreed with decision by the then Home Secretary, now the Prime Minister, on this. What worries me now is that, although the Home Secretary is saying the right things from the Dispatch Box and on the radio, if the police chiefs and the College of Policing do not make sure that this message filters down, there will continue to be fear among officers about doing intelligence-led stop and search. The best intelligence is the bobby who thinks he needs to do stop and search, and that is what we need to see more of.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his work on this ground-breaking reform. It was necessary, and it has had a powerful impact in terms of focusing the minds of the police on the right approach and the best use of stop and search. Almost all the forces are now signed up to the framework. However, he has highlighted the critical issue of confidence to use this tool on the frontline. I have heard, on patrol in Liverpool and elsewhere, that that lack of confidence exists, and that is what we now need to address. The powers are there, and we want the police to use them lawfully.