Stop And Search: A necessary evil?

The new Home Secretary has recently announced that she wants “criminals to feel terror” before they even think about committing the crime.

Patel, alongside PM Johnson supported the huge increase of police officers (20,000 more) with the aim of making criminals fear the system and the consequences of committing crime. Patel referred back to traditional Conservative values of “being the party of law and order”. A greater police presence is vital in a time where London is now deemed more unsafe than New York, with a record high level of stabbings and youth crime.

The police need to be restored as those who keep law and order in check and are trusted by the public to keep their communities’ safe. This can only happen if they are out there, on our streets. Priti Patel is right in saying that the current criminal justice system has failed in reducing the rates of reoffending. Recently, Patel, alongside PM Johnson announced that they want to reverse the fear in society. Rightly so, instead of the public being fearful, the criminals must be fearful of the system. Patel claimed that “stop and search works” in the sense that they empower police and grant them autonomy to carry out necessary checks to make sure that the public feel safe. This move comes directly from the implementation of putting 20,000 more police officers on the streets.

One major concern with stop and search is of the racial profiling of mostly young men. However, as Patel outlines, stop and search needs to be utilised professionally and legally. Of course, with any power, the extent of it can be used inappropriately and can result into an abuse of power. However, I’m not sure about others, but I would rather that power be in the hands of those who protect the law than in the hands of those who seek to break the law and seek to harm the public.

These pilot plans to increase the numbers of officers on streets, give stop and search powers back to police and also to increase prison spaces by 10,000 was welcomed and defended by Police Minister Kit Malthouse. Malthouse explained that this new wave of stop and search operations will not increase community tensions, as new measures such as body-worn cameras on police have been put into place, leading to a professionalisation of the powers given.

To conclude, I strongly believe that stop and search will rightly restore the power balance between protectors of the public and criminals, whilst also having a deterrent effect on those considering committing crimes. This will also assure the public that the police officers are not merely added to the streets just for PR reasons, but have the necessary powers to actually properly be able to carry out their job. Patterns have shown both in Scotland and England, that the increased use of stop and search coincided with a significant reduction in knife offences, and this is exactly what we need during one of the biggest knife crime epidemics occurring throughout the UK, especially in London.

Families, communities and whole groups of society are being hugely damaged by the spike in knife-related crime, we owe it to them, to the victims, and to our society as a whole to end this barbarism by allowing those who safeguard the law to utilise their powers properly

and for the greater good.

As Jeremy Bentham clearly wrote: “I ought to do that act which will bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of persons”.

by Shradha Badiani

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