The StopWatch Legal Group is made up of lawyers and academics who provide legal advice on stop and search and it is open to welcome new people with an interest working on the issue. Regular meetings are held every two months, if you are interested in getting involved email and we will get in touch with you with further details.

In the past, StopWatch supported two legal challenges:

Stop and account

Application for Judicial Review: Hugh Diedrick v. Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary, Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary and the Secretary of State

  • Paul Bowen, Doughty Street Chambers, Counsel for the Claimant
  • Sarah McSherry, Christian Khan Solicitors, Solicitors for the Claimant

“Stops” or “stop and accounts” refers to those encounters where police officers stop (and, in many cases, effectively detain) members of the public to ask them to account for their actions, behaviour or presence in an area but do not go on to search them. The police do not have a statutory power to stop and question someone on street but are not required to inform the person stopped that they are free to leave. In 2008 – 09, there were 2,211,598 recorded stop and accounts across England and Wales. There were 2.7 times more stop and accounts of black people than white people and 1.4 times more stop and accounts of Asian people than white people across England and Wales.

In April 2005, after a recommendation from the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, recording and monitoring of stop and account was introduced. In March 2011, the current Government abolished national recording and left it up to individual Chief Constables to decide if they will record stops where there are local concerns about disproportionality. 35 forces out of 43 have since dropped the recording of stop and account; most without any local consultation or equality impact assessment on the decision.

The Judicial Review challenges the decisions of the Chief Constables of Hampshire Police, Thames Valley Police and Hertfordshire Police and the Secretary of State to exercise their discretion not to direct their officers to record Stop and Accounts. The grounds of challenge are that the decision unlawfully failed to comply with the public sector equality duty (PSED) under s 71 Race Relations Act 1968, and continues to be in breach of his PSED under s 149 Equality Act 2010; is unlawful for the purposes of s 6 Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) and Schedule 1, Articles 8 and 14; and is contrary to the objects and purposes of the Secretary of State’s duty in s 95 Criminal Justice Act 1991.

StopWatch’s research and policy group produced a report on stop and account in support of the case.

Media coverage

Section 60

Application for Judicial Review: Ann Juliette Roberts v. The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Secretary of State.

  • Hugh Southey, Tooks Chambers, Counsel for the Claimant
  • Michael Oswald, Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, Solicitors for the Claimant

Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 is a provision designed to provide an exceptional response to anticipated violence. Section 60 allows for police officers to be authorized to search any person or vehicle for weapons in an area where serious violence is reasonably anticipated. This authorization lasts 24 hours and can be extended by another 24 hours. Although the legislation limits stop and search to a specific time and place, it does not require police to have any individualized basis of reasonable suspicion for conducting searches.

The Judicial Review challenges whether section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 is compatible with articles 5 and/or 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and whether the disproportionate use of searches under section 60 to search black Londoners is a breach of article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

StopWatch member, Dr Michael Shiner has written an expert witness statement on section 60.

Media coverage