London police rapped for 'stop and search' technology delay

Misses Stephen Lawrence inquiry recommendation deadline...
Written by Andy McCue, Contributor

Misses Stephen Lawrence inquiry recommendation deadline...

London's Metropolitan Police have been slammed for a delay in introducing handheld technology to improve police 'stop and search' techniques as recommended by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry. Recommendation 61 of the inquiry into the controversial death of the black London teenager called for the establishment of a better system to record all stops and searches made by police officers. As well as a £500,000 database, which went live earlier this year, police forces were asked to test technology for officers on the beat to record details of stops. The aim is to make the process more transparent, amid concerns that black people and other ethnic minority groups are disproportionately targeted by police. One option is that using some form of handheld PDA device means police out on the street will be able to enter information more quickly, print out a receipt to the person stopped and send the information to the central database. Pilots are going on in seven forces around the country before a single national solution is selected. The Met was supposed to begin a London trial in September to run alongside a paper-based one in Hackney. But the Met has said it will not now meet a September target date and is unable to say when it will be able to introduce technology for a pilot in a London borough. As a result the Equal Opportunities and Diversity Board of London's police watchdog, the Metropolitan Police Authority, has expressed serious concerns about the delay. The EODB has requested an urgent meeting with the Met's deputy commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, and officers directly involved in the project. Cecile Wright, chair of the EODB, said the Met could not afford to drag its feet on the issue if it is to win back the trust and confidence of London's ethnic minority communities. A spokesman for the MPA told silicon.com the committee was "surprised and disappointed" the Met had been unable to come up with any technology suitable for trial, especially as seven other forces are already running pilots. He said: "We want answers." The Metropolitan Police Service was unable to give a reason for the delay or an indication of a new date for the trial. Commander Bob Broadhurst told silicon.com: "We recognise the concerns around the matter. The MPS is working hard to provide a solution as quickly as possible."
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