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The main political parties' policies on stop and search

The UK's political parties have released their manifestos as the country moves toward its May 7 election. This is what each of the major parties had to say on what their policies on stop and search would look like if elected. We also provide information that you may want to take into consideration in interpreting the positions of the political parties.

The Conservative Party (Read manifesto [PDF] – p. 58 and p. 59)

The party manifesto states that they will have the following stop and search policy if in government: 'we will legislate to mandate changes in police practices if stop and search does not become more targeted and stop to arrest ratios do not improve.'

The party manifesto states that they will have the following policies which may effect stop and search if in government:

'We will overhaul the police complaints system.' This could affect the accountability of police officers who are complained about following stop and search and other police initiated encounters.

The party purport to have achieved the following whilst in Government: 

'We have […] reformed stop and search […] We have already increased the proportion of officers working on the frontline and cut 4.5 million hours of police paperwork […]

We have strengthened the police inspectorate [Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary],

made the police more accountable through Police and Crime Commissioners,

increased transparency through crime maps, and

set up the College of Policing to drive up professional standards'

The Green Party (Read manifesto [PDF] – p. 28 and p. 77)

On stop and search specifically: 'Restrict police use of random stop and search powers, which damage police and youth relations'

Related policies:

'Continue to tackle institutional racism in the police force and the wider criminal justice system […]

Focus on crime prevention measures, including more community policing under local democratic control [...]

Abolish Police and Crime Commissioners, and return control of the police to local government […]

Ensure that the public sector does more to employ more Black and Minority Ethnic employees. […]

Pay special attention to any mental health issues of […] Black and Minority Ethnic people, refugees, […] and their families. […]

Follow human rights judgments limiting surveillance and data retention [which may apply to data retention following stop and search] in full.'

The Labour Party (Read manifesto [PDF], Read BAME manifesto [PDF], Read Evening Standard Article on launch of BAME manifesto)

On stop and search specifically: There is no mention of stop and search in the Labour Party manifesto or the BAME Manifesto.

However according to the Evening Standard, 'Labour pledges to reform stop and search by making clear in law that stopping someone on the basis of skin colour is illegal and discriminatory'

Related policies:

'abolish Police and Crime Commissioners […]

We will strengthen community safety partnerships to give local people a role in setting priorities for neighbourhood policing and a say over the appointment of local police commanders […]

To raise standards within policing, all police officers will be required to become chartered officers, holding a registration with the College of Policing, and able to be struck off for serious misconduct, just as doctors and lawyers can be […]

A new Police Standards Authority will replace the discredited Independent Police Complaints Commission […]

we will work with the police to improve ethnic minority recruitment so that the police better reflect the communities they serve [...]

We will enact Britain’s first Victims’ Law to give victims of crime [which may include victims of criminal stop and searches, which can involve crimes of assault and false imprisonment] a voice and an entitlement to minimum standards of service from criminal justice agencies.'

The Liberal Democrats (Read manifesto [PDF] – p. 105 and p.108)

The Party Manifesto states that they will have the following stop and search policy if in government:

'Challenge discrimination in the criminal justice system by

  • Improving the safeguards in police stop and search powers in England and Wales with tighter guidance and requiring police to wear body cameras in Section 60 areas, the establishment of which will require judicial sanction.'

The Party purport to have achieved the following whilst in government: 'strengthened rules on police stop and search'

Plaid Cymru (Read manifesto [PDF])

No mention of stop and search specifically

Scottish National Party (Read manifesto [PDF])

No mention of stop and search specifically

UKIP (Read manifesto [PDF])

No mention of stop and search specifically

Things you might wish to consider when reading the policies:

- bear in mind that parties and candidates are not legally obliged to follow their manifesto or pledges and parties and candidates have not fulfilled their promises in the past. To ensure that parties follow their commitments, many things must happen including pressure by the electorate.

- in order to vote you must be eligible to vote, have registered to vote by declaring that you live in a specific constituency, and not be banned from voting (e.g. prisoners are banned from voting). If you have not registered, even if you are eligible, you will not be able to vote in the General Election 2015 as the deadline for registration has already passed.

- to read the PDF versions of the manifestos of each major political party click on the relevant link: Conservative, Green, Labour including 'BAME manifesto', Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru/Party of Wales, Scottish National Party (SNP), United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP)

- to find out which of the policies of the political parties are most preferable to you go to

- to find all your candidates including those that are not from the major political parties or those that are independent go to 

- to read the CVs of candidates in your constituency go to

- to read election leaflets produced by candidates in your constituency go to

- given that most stop and searches look for drugs, you may also want to read the major political parties' position on drugs in this piece by Talking Drugs

- If you are not happy with any of the policies put forward by the parties fielding in your constituency, and/or not happy with any of the candidates, you might consider using your vote to make a protest vote. Further information on how to make an unambiguous protest vote can be found at 

- If you are 'hopelessly confused' you are not alone.

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