Community and youth engagement is an important activity for Northumbria Police and is embedded in the work of all local policing.
Local policing teams have officers whose main role is dedicated to engaging with young people and our community engagement officers work closely with a number of groups across the county.
Youth engagement specifically in relation to stop and search takes two distinct themes: rights and responsibilities; trust and confidence.
Northumbria Police will continue to build on the improvements already made and work with our communities and stakeholders to increase the effectiveness of stop and search, improve public confidence, improve the quality of the encounter and ensure stop and search continues to protect you.
We will comply with the Government’s ‘Best Use of Stop and Search scheme’ by:
- Giving members of the public the opportunity to patrol with Northumbria Police officers to observe the work they do
- Introducing a community complaints trigger
- Increasing transparency by recording all outcomes of stop and search and whether there is a connection between the grounds for the search and the outcome
- Continuing to publish these records and statistics on the internet
The involvement and empowerment of Northumbria communities is essential to the success of policing the county, and a key component is local monitoring of stop and search activity.
At a local level, stop and search is monitored by Independent community or strategic advisory groups (IAGs / SIAGS).
The role of these groups is to:-
- Hold their police to account
- Scrutinise the operational use of stop and search
- Provide local communities with a voice into their local police to communicate their experiences of street encounters
Public consultation and feedback
Northumbria Police carry out a number of public consultation activities to gauge public confidence in the use of stop and search within the force area, including:
- Contacting over 600 members of the public by telephone
- A range of face-to-face sessions with youth groups across the force area
- The launch of an online survey enabling anyone to tell us about their experience of stop and search.
Members of the public were contacted at random by telephone as part of our existing Safer Communities Survey which is conducted on behalf of the police and local councils. Results from the 649 participants show that:
- 91% are aware that the police have the power to stop and search people.
- 70% thought the use of stop and search was about right, with 29% saying it was not used enough, and 2% saying it was used too much.
- 85% would not know their rights if they were stopped and searched.
- 97% agreed that stop and search is used fairly by Northumbria Police.
- 82% agreed that stop and search makes their neighbourhood safer.
Face-to face session were carried out with a range of young people including Space2 (Newcastle), Northumbria University, Fire Service Cadets and the MESMAC North East (LGBT support agency). To date, around 50 young people have taken part, with further sessions planned.
Sessions included stop and search scenario videos, a short legislation input and a number of body worn videos of genuine stop and searches conducted by officers. A self-completion survey was also completed to capture the views of participants before and after the sessions.
Key points from the sessions include:
- An honest open debate on what constituted a good and bad stop and search after viewing footage.
- A high awareness of police stop and search powers and a good understanding of the need for it.
- Most thought the use of stop and search was about right or not used enough in their neighbourhood.
- Most agreed that stop and search is used fairly and makes their neighbourhood safer.
- Most said they understood their rights following the session.
Of those who had experience of being stopped and searched:
- All agreed that the officer was justified in carrying out a stop and search.
- Most agreed that officers explained what they were doing and treated them with fairness and respect
- A few could not recall the officer giving their details (name, station etc.)
- Most thought the area where they were stopped and searched was not private.
- Views were mixed as to whether they were offered a copy of the stop and search form.
- Most received information about how to complain about the stop and search.
- No one was dissatisfied with their stop and search experience.