Gloucestershire Police: Freedom of Information

Gloucestershire Constabulary readily acknowledges that it uses Stop & Search powers disproportionaly.

Until recently a single complaint about Stop & Search in Gloucestershire should have generated a 'Community Trigger'. This trigger is meant to ensure that an explanation would be required along with scrutiny of the stop search by community groups.

To this end we submitted an FOI request to the constabulary, simply asking:-

Please could let me know the number of formal complaints that have been made against Officers about their use of Stop & Search powers since 2014.

Also, for the same period, please indicate how many of these complaints were scrutinised by your relevant scrutiny panel.

The response was unexpected:-

Although they did confirm our suspicion that, contrary to public facing policy, no complaints whatsoever have ever come before the scrutiny panel.

Stop Search Scrutiny Panel do not review stop search complaints which have been sent to the Professional Standards Department or the Public Feedback team, therefore the answer for this is zero (0).

They asserted:-

Unfortunately, it is not electronically possible to search for the information you have requested in regards to the number of complaints......

Irritated, by the obfuscation, we researched and discovered that the constabulary is required, by law, to submit this sort of complaint data to the IOPC. Maybe the data is hand written and sent to the IOPC by carrier pigeon?

According to IOPC data:-

Apr 2022 – Mar 2023, 18 complaints Apr 2021 – Mar 2022, 23 complaints Apr 2020 – Mar 2021, 30 complaints

So, about 23 complaints a year on average. Meaning around 200 complaints for the date range we inquired about. Each of which should have initiated a 'Community Trigger', yet the constabulary suppressed them all. This may explain why the PCC believes they aren't used very much!

So, the Constabulary prevented 200 opportunities for the community to inquire, investigate and scrutinse their disproportionate use of these intrusive powers.

Worse, the Constabulary has now changed the Terms of Reference to remove the 'Community Trigger', thus preventing any future scrutiny, with full knowledge that black people are six times more likely to be stop searched.

Yet, Gloucestershire Police chief constable Rod Hansen said that this is an issue they are working “incredibly hard on”!

We have formally asked for an explanation of this significant departure from the Best Use of Stop & Search Scheme from the CI. This request was passed on to their superiors and a response has not been forthcoming.

SAR suggests that the footer on the Constabulary's headed paper cannot be treated as truth.

We are committed to being an anti-discriminatory organisation. This means not only acting in a non-discriminatory way, but addressing systemic inequalities, disadvantage and discrimination.