30 April 2014
Last updated at 14:18
Police stop and search powers are to be overhauled with a revised code of conduct, the home secretary has said.
Theresa May told the Commons that an inquiry had found that a quarter of searches may have been illegal.
She said that if the number of stop and searches did not now come down, she would seek to change the law.
The move follows a consultation, which highlighted concerns that stop and search was used too widely and was unfairly targeting ethnic minorities.
Recent figures show only about 10% of more than a million searches lead to an arrest, with black people six times more likely to be stopped than those who are white.
Mrs May said she had written to police forces in England and Wales to set out what would constitute reasonable grounds for conducting a stop and search.
The revised guidelines will also require police officers to undergo a rigorous new assessment on how stop and search powers should be used.
Theresa May said stop and search was counterproductive when misused
She said where officers were found not to be “using their powers properly”, they could face disciplinary action or be barred from using such powers.
When misused, stop and search was “counterproductive” and an “enormous waste of police time”, Mrs May said.
She referred to a recent inquiry by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), which found that 27% of stop and searches did not contain reasonable grounds for suspicion and more than half of all forces in England and Wales were ignoring some rules on stop and search.
‘Not far enough’
Labour said the changes to stop and search guidelines did not go far enough.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said Mrs May had wanted a much tougher rewriting of the guidelines but this had been blocked.
“We need to know why the home secretary has backed down,” Ms Cooper said.
“Her advisers have blamed regressive attitudes in Number 10. But why has she listened to them because she was right and they were wrong. These proposals are too weak and the home secretary has given in.”