Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 13:08 UK

Police stop-and-search forms cut

Police officers
Police officers will have less paperwork to fill after conducting some searches

Police officers will no longer have to fill out lengthy forms when they stop and search people in the street, the home secretary has announced.

But Alan Johnson in a speech to the Police Superintendents' Association said that the "bureaucracy dragon has yet to be slain".

He called on individual forces to take responsibility for cutting paperwork.

The stop and search forms have been criticised for being complicated and bureaucratic.

The form was introduced as a result of an inquiry in the aftermath of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

As well as recording someone's name and why they have been stopped, officers currently also have to answer in writing a series of questions including whether anything was found and if any damage or injury was caused.

Local requirements are often equally, if not more, burdensome and this needs to be addressed too
Alan Johnson, Home Secretary

But now Mr Johnson says the information officers record when they stop a suspect but do not arrest them could be reduced from more than 10 points to just two or three.

Those points would include ethnicity and reason for search.

It could save officers up to 200,000 hours every year.

Public confidence

The change is the latest in a series of moves aimed at increasing the amount of time officers can spend not doing paperwork.

But Mr Johnson stressed the onus was not just on the central government.

"Local requirements are often equally, if not more, burdensome and this needs to be addressed too.

"For example, while the stop and account form has been abolished I have heard of instances where neighbourhood police officers are still filling in forms even though it is no longer required," he added.

Paperwork linked to stop and searches conducted under counter-terrorism legislation will remain unaltered.

Such searches have been criticised for being too intrusive and for undermining public confidence in police.

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