Stop search panel Image: Bedfordshire Police

Discussions included how Bedfordshire Police treat different members of the public

Members of the public have had the chance to quiz Bedfordshire Police officers on how they use stop and search as well as other powers. Nearly 30 people from communities across the county dialled into an online meeting on Thursday last week (10 September 2020) to give their views.

The meeting was organised by Bedfordshire Police and Montell Neufville, chairman of the force’s stop and search scrutiny panel. The panel was recognised nationally in 2019 as an example of best practice.

For nearly two hours people gave their thoughts and feedback on a number of questions posed by police officers. Such as how stop and search was used and how Bedfordshire Police treat different members of the public. T/Superintendent Ian Taylor, the force’s operational lead for stop and search, said:

“Our community scrutiny panel has been consistently recognised for the effective advice and challenge it provides around how our officers use stop and search.

“It was refreshing to hear from those at Thursday’s meeting about the progress they felt we have made around stop and search, as well as how our approach compares favourably to other forces.

“However, it is so important that we do not rest on our laurels and that we continue to invite independent scrutiny and oversight from across our communities.

“Thursday’s event drew on a wider cross section of people from across the county than the usual panel members, and it was extremely valuable to get their views on stop and search as well as policing more widely.

“Being transparent and policing alongside and with the consent of our communities is a key focus of our force.”

The panel scrutinises the data around stop and search

The existing stop and search scrutiny panel meets four times a year to review body worn videos of stop and searches carried out by Bedfordshire Police officers.

The panel also scrutinises the data around stop and search. Such as how often those from different ethnic backgrounds are subject to searches. The Force also hosts a sub-committee of the stop and search panel to scrutinise its work around use of force. Panel chairman Mr Neufville said:

“We often hear phrases such as ‘openness and transparency’ and ‘policing by consent’. For me, what this means is residents of the county can share their personal experiences and articulate why they have those opinions.

“It’s not often that residents get the opportunity to feed into senior police leaders in a way that could directly lead to operational improvements. It’s also reassuring for Bedfordshire Police officers to know that overall, the feedback was favourable from the community.

“This can be attributed to the recruitment, the training, the support and the management and supervision officers receive.

“Of course there are things that can be improved on and things to learn, but overall residents fed back their experience of encounters with Bedfordshire Police was more favourable than their encounters with other police forces in other areas.”

Visit Community scrutiny panel for more information on the stop and search scrutiny panel.