A report to the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner’s Independent Ethics Panel has identified a 44 per cent reduction in the number of Stop and Searches undertaken by South Yorkshire Police in 2016, compared to the previous year.

The Panel heard that whilst the number of searches had decreased, the outcomes had increased, due to a greater use of intelligence.

In 2016 South Yorkshire Police carried out 2,580 searches (0.8 per cent of the population). Of these, 36% resulted in further action – arrest, summons or penalty notice, which is an increase from 35% in 2015.

The number of complaints about Stop and Search has also decreased from six in 2015 to just one in 2016.

Chief Inspector, Jayne Forrest, Head of Community Safety at South Yorkshire Police, said: “We recognise that stop and search is a useful tool in combatting crime, but its use continues to be an impact factor on community relations and public confidence.

“We have worked hard to ensure the ratio of searches to outcomes reflects a national strategic objective to effectively target stop and search through intelligence. This has not only reduced the number of searches by almost half, but also makes South Yorkshire the lowest user of stop and search within comparable Forces.”

The data shows that whilst 74% of searches are conducted on white people, black and other visible ethnic minority people are 3.4 times more likely to be stopped and searched. This is consistent with comparable Forces but represents an increase from 2.3 in 2015.  Stop and searches of all ethnicities are equally likely to result in a positive outcome.

South Yorkshire Police remain concerned and vigilant in regard to disproportionality. The reasons for disproportionality are nationally acknowledged to be difficult to understand. However, the Force has a robust Scrutiny system, including lay person observation. Our scrutiny and observation process exceeds BUSSS guidelines.

Independent Ethics Panel members reported that they had observed very detailed stop and search training for police officers as part of their role and one panel member was identified to attend the force’s bi-monthly Scrutiny Panel, where fifty randomly selected stop and search records are examined for quality assurance.

Recently Community Safety has further enhanced this process by introducing a lay observation scheme. A young person who has been subject to a stop and search is identified and invited to the panel to experience the scrutiny it provides and is invited to provide feedback on their own experience.