The force has a commitment to becoming more open and transparent. Part of this is being better at sharing and engaging on some of the powers that our police officers use to keep people safe, and that includes Stop and Search.
We believe that greater scrutiny will further ensure that our use of these is right and proper.
What are we searching for?
Our latest data for the use of stop and search powers in Southampton includes a section you may have not seen before. From October to December 2022, we used our Section 60 powers to conduct a number of stops across the city.
This power permits us to stop and search any pedestrian, vehicle, driver, or passengers to search for offensive weapons. Its use must be authorised by a senior officer, as it allows the searches to be conducted whether or not there are any grounds for suspicion. It can be used where we believe violence has taken place, may take place or that people are carrying weapons without lawful reason.
Towards the end of last year, we had a series of high profile incidents in the city involving knives. This included an incident where multiple people were charged and remanded following an alleged attempted murder of a young man.
Our response, as your police force, was to seek authorisation for use of Section 60 in key areas; to prevent further incidents, to seize weapons, and to detain those responsible.
While drugs remains the main reason for which we have stopped someone, you will see we also conducted a number of stops in relation to suspicions people were going equipped and for people believed to be in possession of an offensive weapon.
Is our use of stop and search in Southampton proportionate?
If you are black then our data shows you are 3.6 times more likely to be searched in Southampton.
We know that some families who have lost loved ones to violence and drug related harm advocate police searches but we also know many people have concerns about whether policing powers are used fairly. As a force we know that it helps us to keep people safe and spend considerable time scrutinising how it is used. But, we also recognise that our view alone is not enough.
We need views from others so we are doing far more engagement than we did previously. Scrutiny involving our Independent Advisory Groups (made up of members of the public) is therefore part of our approach, and we would encourage people all of our communities to get involved in these groups. We also want to hear more views on Stop and Search. Follow us on Facebook if you’d like to take part in discussions about policing in your local area.
Where can I find more information about stop and search in Southampton?
You can see more about the numbers by looking at the infographic, below. We have also provided the same data in a different format if that is easier for you.
Where does this fit in with our district priorities in Southampton?
The current district priorities for Southampton are:
Op Hem (violence linked to sex workers)
Op Defender (Night Time Economy)
Op Trick (County lines network)
Op Hike (Child Sexual Exploitation)
Op Glover (motorbike-enabled crime)
What is the Southampton Independent Advisory Group (IAG) and what do they do?
Each quarter, members of our community meet as part of our IAG to discuss stop and search within the district and conduct a dip sample of searches to ensure they are lawful and proportionate.
Along with this, they will also take a look at locations where there have been a number of stops and individuals who have been stopped multiple times.
For the first time across Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, notes from an IAG meeting are being published. These notes are anonymised, but we hope will help show what our group does. We are keen to broaden this group further and get the views of our community, in particular those with direct experience of stop and search.