West Midlands Police has today (January 13) announced that their officers have new powers to stop and search people in Birmingham city centre.
The new powers allow officers to stop and search people they suspect to be involved in violence, or carrying weapons, without the need to have reasonable grounds.
The new measures come into play today and last until 5pm and will be reviewed on a daily basis.
West Midlands police say the new powers are necessary to reduce violence and tackle knife crime.
The force said they are using the section 60 powers in and around the city centre, which will be available to the city centre police team along with officers from the Guardian taskforce team who focus on under 25 violence and knife crime.
You can see where these extra measures will be in place in the map below.
What has the force said about the new measures?
Chief Inspector James Spencer, said: “We’re fortunate to be part of one of the biggest and best cities in the country and we want everyone to safely enjoy all it has to offer.
“It means we won’t tolerate violence and is why we are taking action in response to recent stabbings, robberies and weapons being brought into the city.
“Today we’ll be using section 60 powers in and around the city centre to help us do this. This allows us to stop and search people we suspect may be involved in violence, or carrying weapons, without the need to have reasonable grounds.
“We’re committed to working with you and all our partners to prevent violence and knife crime. We want to stop the trend of young people being exploited and immersed into a gang culture of carrying weapons. Every time someone carries a knife or other weapon they run the risk of ruining lives, not only others but their own too.”
He added: “We are working hard to understand what drives such behaviour and links between the exploitation of young people by Organised Crime Groups.
“The reasons for carrying a knife, or any weapon, vary. Some may carry a knife because they think ‘everyone else is’ but that’s not the case - 99 per cent of young people in the UK don’t carry a knife.
“Some may say for protection but evidence suggests those who carry a knife or weapon are more likely to end up being hurt.
“Furthermore, it’s illegal to carry knives or any other weapons and it can lead to a criminal record and prison sentence which impacts on education, employment and travel.
Stop and search scrutiny panels will take place
Chief Inspector Spencer said that the force will be organising stop and search scrutiny panels for the public to provide feedback on the new measures.
He added: “We appreciate the impact of stopping people under section 60 and we’re keen to hear from you about how we exercise these powers. We’re continually looking to learn and improve.
“Moving forward, and Covid permitting, we want to invite more of you to join us on patrols and see what we do. If you’re interested please contact your local neighbourhood police team.
“We will also be arranging stop and search scrutiny panels to demonstrate transparency and our willingness to listen to feedback.
“It’s through your support and sharing information we can help ensure Birmingham is a safe place for all.”
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