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Stopwatch forces ‘disingenuous’ Home Office to release stop and search documents

Home Office forced to release Equality Impact Assessment for section 60 stops by StopWatch and Liberty. Tribunal calls Home Office ‘disingenuous’ for refusing to disclose the assessment in the first place

The Home Office has been branded ‘disingenuous’ and forced to release new documents relating to section 60 stop and search, after legal action by StopWatch.

StopWatch, who campaign for fair and accountable policing, challenged the Home Office’s refusal to release the Equality Impact Assessment relating to the Home Secretary’s decision of July 2021 to remove safeguards on the use of suspicionless stop and search powers to make it easier for police forces to use. StopWatch took the case to a tribunal after the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) allowed the Home Office to keep the documents secret.

Last month, the tribunal ruled that the Home Office’s rationale for refusing to release the document was 'disingenuous' and branded the ICO 'naïve' for accepting it.

Habib Kadiri, executive director at StopWatch, said:

The Home Office went to extraordinary lengths to keep this equality impact assessment hidden, defending its ability to do so all the way to a tribunal. It should not have taken almost two years of litigation for the Home Office to abide by its duties and provide transparency on its decision-making. It is also extremely worrying that the ICO so easily accepted the Home Office’s reasoning for hiding the document, rather than doing its duty to uphold the rights provided by the Freedom of Information Act.
What is plain from this document is that despite all of the evidence that section 60 stops disproportionately target Black people, this government considered no alternatives to removing the BUSSS safeguards and eventually removed them anyway, knowing this would result in more discrimination. Section 60 has never been fit for purpose and must be repealed.

For the full press release and July 2021 Equality Impact Assessment, please download the documents below.

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