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Last Updated: Monday, 6 March 2006, 18:47 GMT
Stop-and-search forms simplified
Police search a man
Police must explain why someone has been stopped
The records police must give to people they stop to explain the reasons are to be made easier to complete.

The Home Office said the on-the-spot forms, introduced in November 2004, were reviewed after police forces expressed concern at the workload.

Officers are to be allowed to record details electronically and issue forms later, a Home Office spokesman said.

The forms were a recommendation of the 1999 Macpherson Report which accused police of "institutional racism".

The report followed an inquiry into the 1993 racist murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London, for which no-one has been convicted.

Accountability

Government figures have shown that black people are over six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, while Asians are almost twice as likely.

The Home Office spokesman said police accepted that the forms were needed to deliver accountability, and there was no question of them being scrapped.

"As with all areas of policing, we and the police are looking at the removal of bureaucracy and technology will play its part," he said.

"We have amended the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act) codes to permit the police to record stops electronically and issue a form later instead of on the spot.

"We are also encouraging examination of other technical approaches to speed the transfer of data to police intelligence databases."

'Officers diverted'

Equal rights campaigners welcomed the forms' introduction, saying they would make the police more "accountable".

The Metropolitan Police conduct 30,000 stop-and-searches or stop-and-accounts every month.

Its Anti-Bureaucracy Taskforce estimated the cost of filling in the on-the-spot forms at 720,000 a year, and said frontline officers were being diverted from other duties.

More than 900,000 people and vehicles were stopped by police across the country in 2004-5.


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