TOP police officers have admitted they have made some “terrible mistakes” when using powers to stop and search people suspected of criminal activity.
Senior figures at Greater Manchester Police were quizzed by a panel, led by police and crime commissioner Tony Lloyd, about the controversial powers panned as “discriminatory” by community leaders at Manchester Town Hall.
Police can stop and search someone if they reasonably suspect a person is carrying stolen goods, drugs, an offensive weapon such as a knife, or items that could be used to damage property.
Out of 2,493 stop and search orders carried out in Bolton between April 2013 and March 2014, just 192 — equivalent to 7.7 per cent — resulted in an arrest. More than 1,400 led to no further action.
And the proportion of black people stopped was more than double the population estimate in Bolton.
At the meeting youth leaders voiced concerns that stop and search was leading to a mistrust of the police, and led young men to feel discriminated against and stigmatised in their communities.
Assistant Chief Constable of GMP, Garry Shewan, said they were working to address officers “unconscious bias” that could lead to people wrongly being targeted.
He added the force has clamped down on units being given targets for the numbers of stop and searches carried out.
Ass Ch Con Shewan said: “I think we have to accept that even until recently we have made some terrible mistakes.
“Officers were given targets in relation to stop and search.
“It was completely unacceptable. We became too obsessed with figures and targets.
“We stopped that as soon as we became aware of it.”
Mr Lloyd said he will now examine suggestions on how to make stop and search more effective.
This includes more training so officers understand there had to be enough intelligence to stop someone in the street.
There were also calls to improve the complaints system, educate youngsters on legislation and encourage them to use camera phones to film officers as they searched them.
Mr Lloyd said: “What is clear is that if I wanted to address, when I took on this role, the single biggest source of mistrust between the police and the community, stop and search would be very high on that list.
"It does matter having an adult conversation about this and making the changes that matter.”