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Last Updated: Friday, 12 December, 2003, 15:47 GMT
'Stop and search' on the increase
Stop and search
Information on ethnicity will be published separately
Police stop and searches have increased by more than a fifth, according to new Home Office figures for England and Wales.

And the number of stop and searches carried out under new anti-terrorism powers tripled to 32,100 between 2001/02 and the following year.

Of those stopped for suspected terrorism, 380 were arrested.

Overall, the number of arrests for crimes recorded by police rose by 3% to 1,313,100 last year.

'Ethnic appearance'

The number of arrests for violent crime and sexual offences, and drug crime had also increased from the previous year.

The figures, out on Friday, showed the downward trend in use of stop and search had ended, said BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Police in some areas had reduced their use of the tactic in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence report in 1999, following claims that it was being used disproportionately against black and Asian people.

We need to focus on the quality of stop and searches rather than simply the numbers
Hazel Blears, Home Office

In 2002/03, 895,000 people were stopped by police, which was 21% more than the previous year and the largest total for four years.

West Yorkshire, Merseyside and Staffordshire were the three police force areas to record the biggest increases, at 84%, 66% and 53% respectively.

The Metropolitan Police showed a 33% rise in stop and search, compared with an average 16% rise in the remainder of England and Wales.

The Home Office said information on the "ethnic appearance" of people stopped and searched would be published separately.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said the increase of stop of search corresponded with an increase in arrests, indicating there had been "good reason" to use the powers.

Sexual offences: up 15% to 28,900
Violence against person: up 9% to 284,000
Theft/handling: down 5% to 419,900
Drugs: up 12% to 131,100
Robbery: static at 35,800
Burglary: up 1% to 108,900

"The appropriate use of stop and search by the police is an important tool in tackling crime; we need to focus on the quality of stop and searches rather than simply the numbers," she said.

The number of arrests following stops and searches rose 16% to 114,300, which was 13% of the total number carried out - the same level as the previous year.

Searches under anti-terrorism laws reached the highest level since 1996-1997, the year following the Canary Wharf bomb which killed two, and injured more than 100 people.

There were 32,100 searches last year under the Terrorism Act 2000 - which was 21,900 more than in the previous 12 months and more than 30,000 above 1999/2000 levels.

Home Office researchers said the increase in the London area - which accounted for the vast majority of searches - was because of an "increase in general security" after the September 11 attacks.

Home Office figures published earlier this year said recorded crime had fallen 3%, when new statistical techniques were taken into account.

New police stop recording policy
30 Nov 03  |  London
'Stop and search' under scrutiny
18 Jul 03  |  London

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