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Police stop and search a suspect
Young Robbers Sunday October 29 2000
Young Robbers - Stop and Search

Read the transcript of the full interview with the Chief Constable of West Midlands police, Edward Crew

West Midlands Police are using wide-ranging powers of Stop and Search to combat mugging, in a move that is causing concern in Birmingham's ethnic minority communities.

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Section 60 explained
It gives police the power to stop and search anyone within a given area
They do not need to show "reasonable cause"
The law was originally designed to allow police to search people for weapons in one-off situations where violence is expected, like football matches
One of their tactics is to routinely use Section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

In areas like Handsworth, it is now routinely being used on an almost daily basis to search young men for weapons.

The film shows one youngster being stopped and searched just because he looked away when a police van approached.

Marion Fitzgerald
Marion Fitzgerald is worried about increased racial tension
Marian Fitzgerald, who was head of the Race Relations Research at the Home Office between 1988 and 1998, is "surprised" by West Midlands' use of Section 60. She points out that normal Stop and Search has caused huge friction with the black community.

She says "at least with section one (of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act) the police have to have reasonable grounds to search someone. Under Section 60 they don't have to have reasonable grounds at all... So necessarily I think it could provoke quite a lot more tension and friction with black people."

Bishop Derek Webley
Derek Webley is concerned about the use of Section 60
Bishop Derek Webley, a community leader in Handsworth says, "I really have some reservations. There has to be suspicion based on some form of intelligence that the police have gathered, or clear description. But if [section 60] is used indiscriminately against black people just walking down the street and it is said that they look like a criminal, then I'll challenge that, I feel that that would be an immoral use of that instrument."

Chief Constable Edward Crew
Edward Crew points to the success of the policy
But the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Edward Crew, defends the tactic and police relations with the black community.

He says, "In the areas that we're using these powers there have been substantial reductions, substantial reductions in street robberies. We are targeting the people who we know are robbers, where we have some evidence or where there are strong suspicions that they're robbing."

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