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British Police to Explain Searches

By Associated Press

March 12, 2002, 1:06 AM EST

LONDON -- British police plan to give a written explanation to every person they stop and search under a new policy that aims to counter accusations that officers discriminate against minorities.
Home Secretary David Blunkett said Monday that the new guidelines for officers stem from a recommendation made in a report that accused police of institutional racism for their bungled investigation of the 1993 slaying of a black London teen.

Officers currently record the details of every search they make but do not have to provide them to the person involved.

"We know that intelligence-led, carefully targeted stop and search is a crucial tool ... in actually being able to apprehend those who are not only up to no good but are part of a network of those who are known to be involved in crime and in drug-running," Blunkett said. "We've got to do this because everyone's right in saying that the present system doesn't work well."

The new plan will be opened to public discussion for 10 weeks before it is implemented on a trial basis.

Police forces will also set up panels of community representatives to monitor stop and search records to make sure minority group members are not targeted disproportionately.

Paul Cavadino, head of the anti-crime group Nacro, said the new plan could help make police stops fairer.

"All too often, stops and searches have been carried out when no reasonable grounds for a stop existed," he said. "This practice is wide open to the exercise of prejudice, stereotyping and racial bias."

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press



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