The home secretary has urged police leaders to “ramp up” the use of stop-and-search powers to prevent more knife crime attacks in a letter to all 43 forces in England and Wales.
Suella Braverman also called on forces to publish bodycam footage quickly to stop police facing “trial by social media”, BBC reported.
Although critics of stop-and-search say that it disproportionately targets those from ethnic minorities, the government said it is a “common sense policing tactic”.
Essex Police said: “Stop and search remains a key tool in terms of reducing crime by removing weapons and drugs from our streets and can provide valuable intelligence to officers to tackle local issues.”
The Met Police has also described it as a “hugely important power” for protecting the public.
In her letter, Ms Braverman said: “My first priority is to keep the public safe, and people who insist on carrying a weapon must know that there will be consequences.
“The police have my full support to ramp up the use of stop-and-search, wherever necessary, to prevent violence and save more lives.”
“Every death from knife crime is a tragedy”
The government said new data shows more than 100,000 weapons have been removed from Britain’s streets since 2019 through a range of tactics – almost half of which were seized in stop-and-searches, which have led to more than 220,000 arrests.
The home secretary added: “Every death from knife crime is a tragedy. That’s why I also back the police in tackling this blight in communities which are disproportionately affected, such as among young black males. We need to do everything in our power to crack down on this violence.”
Body camera footage should be quickly published, the Home Office added
The Home Office called on officers to use available powers to arrest people who unlawfully obstruct stop-and-searches.
It also said forces should publish footage from body cameras worn by officers quickly to prevent innocent officers from being “subject to trial by social media”.
The Home Office also said it was planning to put into law two conditions for using stop-and-search powers.
The department said police should communicate with “the local community” when putting in place Section 60 orders – that is, stop-and-searches that can be carried out without requiring “reasonable grounds”.
Police forces can authorise the use of Section 60 orders in set areas – usually a neighbourhood, or sometimes a whole borough – for a defined period of time.
Essex Police has also prepared a video guide on what should happen when you are stopped and searched, which can be watched here.
The letter from the home secretary comes after the horrific Nottingham attacks, another knife crime, which tragically left three people dead and three injured.