Met Police not properly recording grounds for strip and search: Watchdog
Back view of a metropolitan police officer.
The Metropolitan Police needs to improve its recording of the grounds for stop and search, a watchdog has found.
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) estimated in its report that close to 76 per cent of all stop and searches conducted by Scotland Yard during the year ended on September 30, 2021, had reasonable grounds recorded.
It said the figure was “lower than expected” and remained broadly unchanged at 78 per cent reported in the previous year.
“The officers completing the records must provide enough information on them to justify why they used their power to stop and search someone,” the watchdog responsible for the inspection of the police forces and fire services in England and Wales said.
According to it, a record “must be specific and detailed enough for someone else to judge whether a reasonable person with the same information would have carried out a stop and search.”
Supervisors should ensure officers accurately record the grounds for a search to make their decisions more transparent, it said.
Britain’s largest police force has in the past drawn flak for disproportionate strip searches of black children, including Child Q.
The constabulary also said the force was poor at recording crime when anti-social behaviour was reported. The Met Police recorded only one of the 21 crimes reviewed.
“Crime is often committed by neighbours, occasionally motivated by a victim’s race or disability,” it said while noting that thorough recording of anti-social behaviour allowed the force to identify problems in communities and bring offenders to justice.
HMICFRS found that ethnicity and other protected characteristics of victims were often not recorded adequately although their age and gender were generally well recorded.
The audit by the watchdog also revealed that the Met Police was inadequate at responding to the public.
“The force needs to improve how it answers calls for service and how it identifies vulnerability at the first point of contact,” HMICFRS said.
It, however, said the Met Police force was good at preventing crime.