Taser use and unreasonable ‘stop and searches’ must improve, Lincolnshire Police report states

Lincolnshire Police officers have little understanding of how to use their stop and search powers appropriately and have a greater than average use of tasers, according to a new report.

A police legitimacy report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) on February 11 has ranked the force overall as ‘good’ at keeping people safe and reducing crime.

However, the report was far less complimentary about Lincolnshire Police’s use of stop and search, stating that “officers have a lack of understanding in relation to what constitutes reasonable grounds for a search.”

A total of 5,930 stop and searches were carried out in 12 months up to end of March 2015 by the force.

HMIC inspectors noted that police’s stop and search records did not always include “sufficient reasonable grounds” to justify the lawful use of the power.

The report also claimed that the force is not complying with recording and publishing outcomes, monitoring the impact of stop and search on young people and black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME).

Nor is it providing opportunities for the public to observe officers using the power.

Inspectors also monitored the use of tasers by Lincolnshire Police, revealing that they were used 332 times in the 12 months up to end of December 2014.

The use of tasers represented 4.5 times for every 10,000 people in the county, far greater than the average for Lincolnshire Police’s most similar group of forces, which was 2.0 times per 10,000 population.

However, during the same time period, tasers were ‘discharged’ on 53 occasions out of the 332 times it was used.

This equated to 16% of overall use, less than the force’s most similar group average of 19%.

Inspectors concluded that on balance taser use by the force was fair and appropriate.

Despite this, Lincolnshire Police have acknowledged that they still need to improve their performance in the recording of the use of taser.

The report also praised Lincolnshire Police for establishing an ethical culture and supporting the wellbeing of staff.

Complaints from the public were dealt with fairly and consistently in a way that was free from bias, according to inspectors.

The report added: “The involvement of local people in policing activities, especially as volunteers, is commendable.

“Training on the National Decision Model (NDM) ensures that officers and staff are knowledgeable and have the skills required to treat members of the public fairly and with respect.”

Lincolnshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Heather Roach

Lincolnshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Heather Roach

Deputy Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Heather Roach, said: “HMIC acknowledges that we are advanced with our plans to introduce body-worn video to all frontline officers which will improve compliance with the national, ‘Best Use of Stop and Search’ scheme.

“We have noted the comments from HMIC and welcome the conclusion that overall our performance is ‘good’.

“But we will examine the report in close detail and make improvements where we need to.”