Coffee House

Theresa May’s stop and search review hits target

26 July 2013

4:45 PM

26 July 2013

4:45 PM

One of the more significant – but still rather underreported – shifts in Conservative policy in the past few months has been Theresa May’s review of stop and search powers. The Home Secretary told parliament at the start of this month that she could understand why some communities felt stop and search was used unfairly. As James wrote at the time, the consultation was a signal from the Conservatives that they do understand the concerns of black and ethnic minority voters.

May’s announcement seems to have gone down very well indeed: the latest issue of black newspaper The Voice carries a feature examining which party should get the black vote, with a front page splash asking ‘Is Labour losing the black vote?’


Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 16.40.54

The article praises May’s announcement in particular, saying:

‘The rare acknowledgement of racial discrimination shows how far the Tories have come from the ‘sus’ laws that were rife in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher, which fuelled riots in Brixton, Toxteth and Handsworth.’

But as well as saying that the Conservative party ‘has certainly changed its tune’, The Voice lays into Labour for growing complacent about the black vote. It quotes Simon Woolley, of Operation Black Vote, who believes Labour must do better, and says ‘discontent is growing among black and minority ethnic grassroots activists who feel there is no place for them in the party beyond being a foot soldier’.

This will please the Tories, and more specifically May, a great deal. It shows that this key modernisation moment on stop and search has had resonance with a group of voters they are specifically trying to target, and that their mission is by no means in vain.

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Show comments
  • Frank P

    On a lighter note (perhaps):

    How do you tell the difference between a UK Police Officer, an Australian Police Officer and an American Police Officer?

    First, let’s pose the following question:
    You’re on duty by yourself walking on a deserted street late at night. Suddenly, an armed man with a huge knife comes around the corner, locks eyes with you, screams obscenities, raises the knife and lunges at you. You are carrying a Glock 40, and you are an expert shot … however you have only a split-second to react before he reaches you.

    What do you do?

    Firstly, the officer must consider the man’s Human Rights:

    1) Does the man look poor or oppressed?
    2) Is he newly-arrived in this country and does not yet understand the law?
    3) Have I ever done anything to him that would inspire him to attack?
    4) Am I dressed provocatively?
    5) Could I run away?
    6) Could I possibly swing my gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
    7) Should I try to negotiate with him and discuss his wrong-doings?
    8) Does the Glock have appropriate safety built into it?
    9) Why am I carrying a loaded gun anyway, and what kind of message does this send to society?
    10) Does he definitely want to kill me, or would he be content just to wound me?
    11) If I were to grab his knees and hold on, would he still want to stab and kill me?
    12) If I raise my gun and he turns and runs away, do I get blamed if he falls over, knocks his head and kills himself?
    13) If I shoot and wound him, and lose the subsequent court case, does he have the opportunity to sue me, cost me my job, my credibility, and the loss of my family home?




    Sergeant arrives at scene later and remarks, “Nice grouping.”

    • Christopher Tulloch

      well problem with that is standard beat officer doesn’t have a gun might have a taser so your anwser for the british cop should be *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzpppp* and a man writhing on the floor with 4,000 volts through him and best of all no one had to die.

      • therealguyfaux

        A few stomps to the offender’s face would not go amiss, either.

        Assuming you have actually been able to get within striking distance of the taser needles’ wires, have actually got them to stick within the offender’s skin, and the offender is not so high on, say, angel dust, that his strength and endurance appears superhuman, a taser should work wonders.

        Best not to leave it to chance if the offender is sprawled on the ground, though– a boot heel to the face, applied once or maybe twice if necessary, will tend to render the offender beyond capability of retaliation against the officer.

        Speaking of “boot,” any responding police car, to be able to deal with a deteriorating situation whilst awaiting the arrival of the area armed response cars with automatic weapons, should always have shotguns in that part of the car, in case they may become necessary; as the late and deservedly unlamented Jimmy Savile might have put it– “Clunk click, every trip.” You would be surprised how many offenders with weapons other than guns are dissuaded from further resistance against police once they have heard that characteristic sound. Averts the question of police shootings altogether in certain instances.

  • Frank P

    I note that nobody ever mentions the deterrent effect of stop and search; the 91% NOT carrying illegal weapons, drugs or stolen proceeds is the indicator of success of the methodology. The 9% is an indicator that some villains are pretty damned stupid as well.

    Btw who cares whether they are black, white or khaki? The criteria for stop and search has to be left to the discretion of the police officer at the sharp end, who will use other considerations, such as the locality, the time, the known character of the suspect or shifty behaviour, etc.. If vote catching is a reason to stop or not stop suspected villains then disband the bleedin’ constabulary – then we’ll all know where we stand and we can make our own arrangements to deal with the bad bastards.

    The reason that the leaders of the black race industry continue to challenge stop and search, is that they know that if they do,a large proportion of cops in crime-ridden areas will refrain from stopping black suspects because they just can’t be arsed with the hassle that ensues.This ensures that the illegal activities, which part-fund the existence of the black activists, will be more successful and therefore more lucrative. I say ‘part fund’ because the government subsidises them too through various ‘community’ scams.

    Teresa May must refrain from interfering in tried and tested police methodology, let the police get on with their job and garner votes by dealing with the issues that most concern the real conservative voter base. Stop and search is not one of them. Curtailing immigration certainly is one of them and repatriation of powers from the Egregious Union is another.

    What a pity that there are no police chiefs left with the cojones to tell her that..Cowards all!

    As for those ex-Commissioners who served in the Job when it was still effective and when esprit de corps still existed – and whose arses now polish the red benches of the upper house – did the red leather shrink YOUR nuts as well? We have mutual friends now passed on, some of them your erstwhile mentors. They would be sorely displeased if they were to return and witness how you have repaid them for their confidence in you. You should be ashamed. I never thought I would live to see the day – but I have and I am sorely sad.

    • Noa


      Thank the Lord you’re back Frank! Profoundly knowledgeable, insightful, inciteful and just downright disrespectful.
      Of course that its all true only adds to its shock value.

    • ButcombeMan

      A very good post Frank.
      The one added point I would make is that the Officers demeanour and they way they inter act with the suspect are very important. Yes the Officers have to put up with a lot, but good training and unfailing courteousness in the face sometimes, of dreadful provocation, can take a lot of the sting out of the stop and search of an innocent.

  • anyfool

    That it has taken a very small percentage of Black people 60 years to realise Labour are using them does not auger well for their future here in Britain.
    60 years of Labour run education, and their grandchildren are less educated than the parents who disembarked from the Windrush.
    6o years and they still live in low quality island type communities, minus the good weather.
    60 years with the exception of a few runners and footballers, not one of any real consequence has made anything of him/herself.
    The best known non sporting black people are spokesmen for the brigade who actively state black people have special needs and cannot as a race manage.
    The richest section of black people are in the race industry that has a vested interest in keeping black people in their place, “how else would they afford a Caribbean villa with servants” all of them owe their advantages over other black people to Labour and are in the party actively colluding in keeping them in their place, to do otherwise would end their cosy existence.
    They need the sense of black grievance, they need a poorly educated black community just like the Labour party who thrive in all poor communities they live off it, it is their breath of life.

    • Christopher Tulloch

      God your attempt at a broad sweeping generalisation of all black people is pretty disgusting, (maybe not racist but you did it appears to me bring some inate prejudice with you to this discussion). My grandmother came over in the late 50’s ande worked as a cleaner, my mother arriving at 11 was one of the top students in school became a teacher then went on to receive her masters at soas my father was basically the first black man to lecture at Goldsmiths. i went to Camberwell college of art and now work as a web designer and developer with my own small business, i have 3 sisters one older has works in pr also went to university middle sister did a degree in chemistry and works for a large drug company in the states. my famil;y is not unique among black peoplke maybe not to that level but the same could be said of the white people i grew up with on my council estate in Bow, Tower Hamlets i could give you a list of the number of white kids i new that came to nothing ended up in jail or jobless on benefits popping out babies.
      See two can play this game I find your attempt at trying to say in this a winding twisting way of yours where you skirt just at the edge of overt racism but being very carefully to not cross the line. Is that all black people have achieved nothing and we are nothing.
      Lets be honest here you don’t know any black people you not friends with any black people you likely never invited a black person to your house. You based this rant of your on what exactly? What qualifies you as an expert of the list of black achievements in this country, beyond those “few runners and footballers” i suspect the truth is that these are the only examples you can giver because you don’t really know what your are talking about.
      If i were you i would be rather ashamed to be sprouting such borderline racist drivel. I won’t even bother commenting on your so called “brigade” because its so much rubbish its not worth my time.
      I’m truly sad that 9 other people like this offensive rubbish and hope they feel ashamed.

  • Callan

    Here’s a cunning plan Mrs.May. Abolish the Theft Act, The Offences Against the Person Act and the dangerous drugs legislation and watch your approval ratings soar and the votes will come flooding in. A few of your former core Tory voters may object but, hey, what do they matter in 2013 multi cultural Britain.

  • rubyduck

    “‘discontent is growing among black and minority ethnic grassroots
    activists who feel there is no place for them in the party beyond being a
    foot soldier’”

    I’d hazard a guess that feeling is shared by many Tory party activists.

  • Noa

    This is classic political spin. Bad news-the reduction of active street policing due to reduction in operational manpower- is being presented as good. That Labour voters believe this nonsense shows how stupid they are.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, and Gaia knows it’s not as if Mistress May, Minister of Sinister, Queen of Data Glean, Empress of Bruskness, has much of any belief in freedom and liberty, as we know.

      • HookesLaw


        • the viceroy’s gin

          …no need for you to post your CV here, lad.

          • Daniel Maris

            are you rambling again VG?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              …but the good news is, your CV is stronger than the above muppet’s.

              • Daniel Maris

                …just press the buzzer if you need any help…

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  …is that what the voices up in your head are telling you?

  • HurstLlama

    Let us see what comes of the review, what actually changes. Probably not very much. This is a subject that bubbles up every five years or so and a review takes place. Each review is followed by trumpeted announcements, new forms are introduced, plod is sent on training courses, ACPO make statements to the press, but on the street nothing really changes and so another review takes place a few years later.

    Oh, by the way the so-called “sus laws” had nothing to do with Mrs Thatcher, save that it was her government that abolished them when it introduced the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

    • Daniel Maris

      The sus laws were there before the Brixton riots.

  • AnotherDaveB

    ‘Stop and search’ is surely related to crime rates?

    • Denis_Cooper

      I thought it was to do with the prevention of crime and apprehension of criminals. But apparently not, it’s to do with the Tory party attracting more votes from certain sections of the population.

    • Daniel Maris

      Not true. The proportion of black people found with offensive weapons is about the same as with white people. It’s just black people get stopped and searched about 30 times more than white people.

      • Allectus

        Surely if the proportion of black people “found with offensive weapons” is about the same as that for whites, then stop and search has achieved broadly the correct ethnic balance?

        In 2010 the Met released figures showing that more than two thirds of those arrested for gun crime and 54% of those arrested for street crime were black.

      • Denis_Cooper

        I’ve often seen it quoted as 7 times more, but the question always left open is how the “success rate” for blacks compares to that for whites.

        It’s often said that stop and search leads to an arrest on only 9% of occasions, but it’s never made clear whether or not that 9% “success rate” applies to both blacks and whites more or less equally.

        Here last Saturday, for example:

        I actually emailed the author direct to ask her to answer that question, but she’s been away.