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Suffolk Police's stop and search decision on hold
Leon Hall
Leon Hall said relationships have been damaged by the police's actions

Suffolk Police has postponed its decision to terminate funding for a stop and search reference group.

A four-week consultation period and an Equality Impact Assessment will be completed before a final decision.

In October, the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) called for a U-turn.

It says a disproportionate number of people from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds are stopped and searched without arrest or charge.

The stop and search reference group met on a monthly basis, as part of a service level agreement (SLA), for the past two years until the police announced it was withdrawing funding for financial reasons.

However, Leon Hall, project manager for ISCRE, said the service had been unduly terminated.

"The reason we were given was due to funding issues," said Mr Hall.

"We weren't convinced that this was the real reason behind it. The group did challenge police staff and they probably got to a point where they didn't want to engage with that type of work.

"I think what was significant was the fact we put a Freedom of Information [request] in around the time they withdrew the funding and that highlighted they hadn't done an Equality Impact Assessment.

"We put that to the group and a member decided that they wanted to put a challenge in, formally and legally, and it was off the basis of this challenge that the police have had to reverse the decision and look at more formal ways of consulting the community.

"The equalities act is quite clear - if you make a decision that's going to affect the community you need to be consulting them.

"They haven't done that.

"ISCRE are in a position where we can help the police engage with the community and making sure the Equality Impact Assessment is done and the consultation is done properly."

Police consultation

Ch Supt Stewart Gull
Ch Supt Stewart Gull said the decision was 'purely financial'

In a statement, Ch Supt Stewart Gull said: "The decision to terminate the SLA with ISCRE in September was purely a financial one.

"That decision has now been rescinded and is subject to a full four week consultation period which begins today and the completion of an Equality Impact Assessment.

"When this work is complete the Constabulary will consider future arrangements with ISCRE.

"The monitoring and scrutiny of stop and search continues, led by the Suffolk Police Authority, the Independent Advisory Group and members of the Suffolk BME community."




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Ipswich stop and search protest
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