Political

Lib Dems move to scrap Section 60 stop and search

A press release from the Liberal Democrats brings the news…

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to back a new Bill to scrap suspicion-less stop and search in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, which have exposed ingrained institutional racism and discrimination in the UK.

Given the disproportionate impact of current stop and search laws on black people in particular, and BAME communities more widely, the Liberal Democrats will today (Wednesday 24 June) introduce a Bill to outlaw suspicion-less stop and search, highlighting that the current law “undermines” community trust in police.

The party is demanding the government back the proposal. If passed, the law would prohibit Section 60, suspicion-less stop and search, which currently leaves a black person almost 50 times more likely to be stopped than a white person. The party is further calling for a race equality strategy and an end to the hostile environment.

Ahead of introducing the Bill, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

No one here in the UK or anywhere else in the world should have their life blighted by racist discrimination, inequality or injustice. It is unacceptable and must be tackled head on.

Suspicion-less stop and search not only doesn’t work, but the disproportionate impact of these laws undermines police officers’ relationships with the communities they serve – the very relationships needed to prevent crime. The Liberal Democrats have long called for this fundamentally flawed law to be scrapped, and today I am introducing a Bill to do just that.

The Conservative Government must get behind this Bill and make sure it becomes law. Of course, this has to be part of a broader Race Equality Strategy. We need the UK to move further and faster to redress institutional racism, not least by scrapping the policies at the core of the Tories’ discriminatory Hostile Environment.

Notes:

Official statistics show that Section 60 powers are disproportionately used against BAME people. Based on the latest Home Office figures, a black person is 47 times more likely to be stopped and searched under Section 60 than a white person (260 stops and searches per 100,000 population for black people in 2018-19, compared to 5.5 per 100,000 population for white people).

Figures also show a steep rise in the use of this power. The number of searches under Section 60 has increased from 631 in 2016-17 to 13,175 in 2018-19 – a 20-fold increase in just two years.

The latest statistics on stop and search are available here.

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