DORSET Police conducted hundreds of stop and searches across the county last year as numbers rose compared to previously, figures show.

The latest data from Dorset Police shows there were 2,678 stop and searches conducted in 2020 to 2021, up 26 per cent from the previous year.

In 2017 to 2018 there were 2,399 stop and searches in the county, this rose to 2,368 in 2018 to 2019.

The number of stop and searches carried out by the police force has continued to grow year-on-year, except in 2019-2020 when 2,116 were conducted due to the pandemic.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Lyne said: “Stop and search is an important tactic to help keep our communities safe and bring offenders to justice. Over the national lockdowns our officers and staff were out in communities focusing on targeting those involved in criminality, including individuals involved in county lines.

“We also saw a rise in the transient population, in particular over the summer period, where people visited Dorset who couldn’t travel overseas. All searches carried out are subject to a review by a supervisor to ensure they are justified, lawful and focused on making Dorset safer for all.”

Arrest is only one outcome of a stop search and the necessity of making an arrest is governed by law.

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Dorset Police state that the most important outcome relates to the find rate, which was 29.2 per cent in Dorset in 2020/2021 - nationally this was 20.27 per cent.

Other outcomes include out of court disposals but also the safeguarding of individuals, especially those being exploited as part of county lines activity.

Dorset Police said it receives very few complaints about its use of the tactic from those subject to search and have a high compliance of recording interactions with body-cam footage for transparency.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Lyne said: “Dorset Police recognises that stop and search is an important tactic in reducing crime and keeping people safe. However, it can also have an impact on the confidence of our communities, in particular those from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background.

“Over the last year we have undertaken extensive research with Frazer Nash consultancy looking at the impact of the 2011 Census population data alongside the number of people searched who do not live in Dorset.

“I am pleased that the Home Office has acknowledged that the 2011 population data is not a true or accurate representation of the communities we now serve in Dorset and I welcome the different suggested ways disproportionality rates around stop and search could be measured going forward.

“At an early stage Dorset Police collaborated with the Cambridge Centre for Evidence-Based Policing for an independent review of our data to be carried out to understand how we use our powers and measure the way it impacts certain communities, known as the Risk Adjusted Disparity Index. It is positive that the Home Office has acknowledged the merit of this work and explored the concept in an alternative method to measuring stop and search.

“In all of the work that we are undertaking, we recognise that doing it alongside and with the feedback of our communities is key to being seen as a legitimate force, and we will continue with this approach so they can offer both scrutiny and advice on how we operate. As a matter of transparency, we have also made all of the research available on our website, which can be found here:

“Dorset Police will continue to use stop and search as a legitimate way to catch perpetrators of crime and make Dorset a safe county for all.”