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Calls for review of British police stop-and-search powers

Campaigners have called for a crackdown on stop-and-search powers amid fears they could be extended under a controversial policing Bill.

A year on from the death of George Floyd in the US, there have been demands for an overhaul of the stop-and-search policy in the UK which allow police to search people and vehicles for drugs or weapons without a warrant.

Thousands of people in the UK took part in protests prompted by Mr Floyd’s murder on May 25 last year.

The killing of the African American man by a white police officer also reignited the debate on the use of stop and search by British law enforcement, amid concerns people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds were being disproportionately targeted.

Now campaigners have warned against further sweeping powers proposed in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The Government wants to introduce serious violence reduction orders as part of the Bill to make it easier for police to carry out checks on people who have been previously convicted of carrying a knife.

Some have also said the use of so-called s60 stop-and-search powers, under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act allowing police to act without any reasonable grounds for suspicion, must end.

Rachel Harger, a solicitor in actions against police and state at law firm Bindmans who has represented people affected by stop and search, told the PA news agency: “All suspicion-less stop-and-search powers have to go and yet we have a Government, who instead of listening and engaging with communities raising concerns about these powers, has responded with proposals to increase them.

“Under the new policing bill the police will be able to stop and search individuals, who have previously been convicted of carrying an offensive weapon (even if they have not received a custodial sentence), without reasonable suspicion.”

Human rights group Justice said greater restrictions are needed on stop and search to “avoid discriminating against our country’s ethnic minorities”, adding the Bill would “extend punishment from prison into the community, and risk further damaging confidence in the police”.

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