Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360 - 366)



  360. What do you say to the view of the Police Federation in particular who say as a result of criticism and the Macpherson Inquiry and one or two other matters their ability to deal with crime, certainly on the London scene, has been seriously undermined as a result of not being able to stop and search as previously?
  (Mr Wadham) There has been no change to the law on stop and search.

  361. But in practice there has been, has there not?
  (Mr Wadham) In practice, I am not sure. Obviously I was not prepared for this particular question and this particular level of detail but, so far as I understand, the evidence is that it does not necessarily prove the Police Federation's case. If in fact the Police Federation have decided to stop and search fewer people, and they have got less arrests, then there may be a problem but it may be that their targeting of stop and search will lead to fewer people being unnecessarily stopped and searched and a greater efficiency in terms of the people that they do, and I would applaud that. It may be obviously if they stop a thousand people and in only 20 of them do they find any evidence of criminal offences, that creates a problem for the other 980 innocent people. If in fact they can target their powers more carefully, and they get a greater hit rate, so to speak, that is to be welcomed even if one or two people escape through the net, particularly given that large numbers of ethnic minorities and black people who are innocent are stopped and searched on our streets every day. The consequence of that is that they are more likely to be alienated from the police than if they are left alone.

  362. Were you surprised at all by The Voice newspaper, the journal of the black community, arguing that stop and search should be used? Does it not reflect the appalling criminality which is occurring almost on a daily basis in London?
  (Mr Wadham) I think that sometimes we have all focused a great deal on the fact that ethnic minorities and black people are discriminated against as suspects and not so much that they are as much discriminated as victims, and they do not always get the service they are entitled to from the police and others. I think there is a real issue to ensure that the discrimination is dealt with in both senses. That is an issue throughout the criminal justice system, both the black and ethnic minority people as victims and as witnesses and as suspects, and that is something we all need to do more about. I do not accept the proposal that therefore there should be more stop and search because the systems seem to result in unnecessary discrimination.


  363. Mr Littlewood, you have sat silently throughout our proceedings but I think you drafted the evidence, did you not, is that right?
  (Mr Littlewood) No, that was drafted by somebody who left Liberty on Friday.

  364. Right.
  (Mr Littlewood) So, no, I did not.

  365. Is there anything you want to add?
  (Mr Littlewood) It will not surprise you to know that I agree with everything that John Wadham has said.

  366. There is nothing you wish to add?
  (Mr Littlewood) No.

  Chairman: In that case, Mr Wadham, Mr Littlewood, thank you very much for coming.

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