Police Stop And Search Operations Quadrupled In March
800 stopped in one week , in a bid to stop knife and drugs crime
Police in West London carried out 800 stop and searches of vehicles within the space of just one week in March.
This level of searches – a big leap from the average of around 200 carried out in a standard week in 2018 – could become much more common, a senior police officer said, as the force attempts to combat knife crime.
Since the start of the year and amid concerns over rising knife violence, the number of stop and searches carried out in Ealing, Hillingdon and Hounslow on a weekly basis has hovered around 500.
As Superintendent Mark Payne told a Hounslow Scrutiny Committee meeting on Monday evening, 800 was unusually high.
The jump was probably triggered by intelligence that gangs are congregating, he said, or that there is immediate impending violence, which triggered the right to stop and search under Section 60 legislation.
Supt Payne said the biggest thing affecting whether someone would carry a knife wasn’t the harshness of the punishment, but the perceived likelihood of being caught.
He said: “People carry around knives because they think they won’t be stopped and searched and caught.”
Mr Payne ( pictured above; image by Ged Mc Cann) also pointed to the work of Operation Wolverine, a special task force set up by police specifically to combat violent and knife crime.
Set up in November last year, it has reportedly stopped and searched over 1,000 people, resulting in 365 arrests, and 34 knives being taken off the streets.
Between March 2018 and March 2019 there were 91 cases of residents in Ealing being caught in possession of a knife or pointed weapon.
In Hillingdon this figure sat at 89, and in Hounslow, 126.
Knife crime resulting in injury has reduced over the last year, however the Western Area Basic Command Unit, formed in June 2018, has not seen such a marked a decline as London as a whole.
Mr Payne said the force was also focused upon combating the county lines drug trade which comes through London boroughs including Hounslow.
He said: “You have to deal with the drug stuff because that fuels knife crime.”
During the presentation, Councillor Vickrham Grewal asked if there was police data on the age, sex, and ethnicity of those being searched.
Mr Payne wasn’t able to supply it on the spot, but said the data was collected and would be made available to the Scrutiny Committee.
Ged Cann - Local Democracy Reporter
May 7, 2019