Second FOI request: Breakdown of Section 44 Searches

Following my first request about the number of “random” Section 44 Searches undertaken and their outcomes (detailed and analysed here), I filed a second request on 16th September 2008, asking:

Please can you clarify the meaning of ‘other’, and provide as much detail as possible on the offences for which verbal warnings were given, and arrests made. At the very least, please can you say how many of the arrests were for terrorism-related offences, what these offences were, and how many resulted in prosecutions.

K.Simmons, Policy and Support Officer for the Metropolitan Police Service, responded on 10 October 2008 with the following further information for MPS Sec44 Searches and Outcomes to Feb 2008 (the first table is the same as the one resulting from the first request):

MPS Section 44 Searches; January 2003 – February 2008
Outcome Type Description Number of Searches
NO FURTHER ACTION 140,989
ADVISED 6,834
VERBALLY WARNED 1,730
ARRESTED 2,108
OTHER 39,817
Total 191,478
Breakdown of ‘Other’ search outcome type
Outcome Type Description Total
NOT RECORDED 38,009
OTHER 1,601
PART 4 CJ – REMOVED FROM DESIGNATED AREA 145
DIRECTED TO LEAVE ALCOHOL LOCN. 26
ALCOHOL CONFISCATION 2
CANNABIS WARNING 34
Grand Total 39,817
Proportional Breakdown of Arrests following Stop and Search under S44, January 2003 – March 2008
Arrest Reason Group Arrest Reason Type Description Total As % Total
S60 ANTICIPATED VIOLENCE (S60 CJPO) 5 0.24%
S60 Total Total Section 60 Arrests 5 0.24%
S44 TERRORISM 44(2) 118 5.60%
S44 TERRORISM 44(1) 102 4.84%
S44 Total Total Section 44 Arrests 220 10.44%
PACE/ Other ARRESTED OTHER OFFENCE(S) 1,092 51.80%
PACE/ Other OTHER POWER (ANNEX A OF CODE A PACE) 240 11.39%
PACE/ Other DRUGS (S23 MISUSE OF DRUGS ACT) 198 9.39%
PACE/ Other STOP & SEARCH FOR STOLEN PROPERTY (S1 PACE) 147 6.97%
PACE/ Other OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (S1 PACE) 117 5.55%
PACE/ Other OFFENSIVE WEAPONS (S139 – CJA, SCHOOLS) 40 1.90%
PACE/ Other GOING EQUIPPED (S1 PACE) 21 1.00%
PACE/ Other FIREARMS (S47 FIREARMS ACT) 20 0.95%
PACE/ Other S.163 RTA 6 0.28%
PACE/ Other ARTICLES TO CAUSE CRIMINAL DAM 2 0.09%
PACE/ Other Total Total PACE/ Other Arrests 1,883 89.33%
2,108 100.00%

On the subject of my request to clarify the meaning of ‘other’, the response was:

We are unable to clarify what others are as there is no information on the stops form to clarify this, also we cannot tell him how many resulted in prosecutions. Some of the information needed for the reply is on the attachment below.

[I’m assuming “him” is me, and this was copy and pasted from an internal email.]

As was seen on the first request, 20.8% of all searches under Section 44 were recorded with an “other” outcome. (39,817 of 191,478 searches).

Of these, further clarification revealed that for 38,009 of these 39,817 searches (95%, or 19.9% of all searches) no outcome was recorded – but this does not mean “no further action” was taken, as these are classified separately. So what happened to this group?

For the arrests – the outcome of 2,108 of the 191,478 searches (1.1%) – the breakdown shows that Section 44 arrests – i.e. arrests that justified the initial search under the powers of Section 44 – comprise just 10.44% of the total – and the MPS can’t tell us how many of these resulted in prosecution, let alone conviction.

The vast majority of arrests – 89.33% – are for standard PACE offences, with 51.80% of the total again classified as “other” – so we have no idea what happened. Of the named offences, the largest group by far is drugs offences at 9.39%.

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