Boost for Boris Johnson as poll reveals three in four voters back increasing stop-and-search powers

Posted On: 
12th August 2019

Boris Johnson has been handed a boost after a poll found that nearly three in four Brits back his plan to give the police greater stop-and-search powers.

Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel with Chief Constable of West Midlands Police Dave Thompson
Credit: 
PA Images

A YouGov poll found that 74% of the country supports his proposal to lift restrictions on carrying out the practice, while just 14% are opposed to it.

Furthermore 93% of Tory voters at the last election, 61% of Labour supporters, and 61% of those who backed the Liberal Democrats are in favour of the move.

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Just 25% of those who opted for Jeremy Corbyn's party in 2017 disapprove of the policy, while 22% of Lib Dems and 3% of Conservative are against it.

It comes despite Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, insisting that while evidence-based stop and search could prove a "useful tool", random searches would "exacerbate" community tensions.

The study also found that 90% of those who supported leaving the EU in 2016 support the plan, as do 65% of those who voted to Remain.

The new rules will make it easier for officers to use Section 60 powers, where for a limited time they can stop and search anyone in an area if they believe there is a risk of violence.

Mr Johnson’s announcement came alongside a pledge to create 10,000 new prison places, at a cost of £2.5bn, as part of a vow to “come down hard on crime”, in particular serious violence and sexual offences.

The announcement comes amid speculation that Mr Johnson’s team are plotting to call an election in the autumn, when Parliament returns from recess, in an effort to break the deadlock over Brexit.

Unveiling the policy to boost stop-and-search powers in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson wrote: "We are making clear that the police can and should make use of their stop-and-search powers.

"I know that left-wing criminologists will object. And, of course, it is right that stop-and-search should be done courteously and in accordance with the law.

"But I also know that the people who back this intervention most fervently are often the parents of the kids who are so tragically foolish as to go out on the streets equipped with a knife, endangering not only the lives of others but their own."

The Prime Minister said he was determined to tackle rising levels of knife crime amid a growing “culture of insolence” among “thugs” who believed they can act with impunity.

Meanwhile Ms Abbott told Radio 4's Today programme: “Evidence-based stop-and-search will always be a useful tool for police officers… but random stop-and-search is a tried and tested method for exacerbating community relations.

"The Labour Party’s not saying we’re against evidence-based stop-and-search," she told the BBC's Today programme.

"What we’re saying, what history tells us, is random stop-and-search is not a way to build community relations and in the end you can only police with community consent."