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New Guidance from the Home Office on the use of Police Powers

01 November 2019
The Home Office has released guidance on how their annual statistics should be interpreted. 

Every year the Home Office publishes statistics on arrests for recorded crimes, stop and searches, breath tests and police action relating to motoring offences.  This new guidance provides clarity on the offences which fall within the categories counted, the quality of data received and how that data is obtained.

The guidance indicates that the data collected in relation to arrests was generally of a high standard this year, owing principally to the requirement to make accurate and detailed notes of any arrest, with the information then being transferred to the custody record.

Data collected in relation to stop and searches was also considered to be of a high standard.  Some forces now use electronic handheld devices to record stop and searches reducing the risk of under-recording.  Data collected in accordance with the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme introduced in April 2014 requires further attention by forces as there appears to be difficulties recording all of the information required under the Scheme.

Similarly to stop and search, the introduction of digital recording equipment for breath tests has improved the quality of the data obtained.  Negative breath tests may have previously been underreported but the proportion of tests that are refused or resulted in positive readings have decreased since the beginning of 2008.

In respect of detentions under the Mental Health 1983, data collected for detentions under S136 of the Act was considered to be of a high standard but under S135 of the Act the quality of data was low.  Detentions under S135 involve mental health professionals and the relevant information is often held by the NHS rather than the police.  In the circumstances, the Home Office is working with forces to understand the issues they face with data collection and whether any changes to the data return requirement is needed. 

The guidance is to be read in conjunction with this year's published statistics and offers more insight into the issues and classifications that are key to the production and presentation of the annual statistical release.