Stop and Search: The Evidence

Friday 8th April 2022


The use of stop and search powers by the police is highly controversial. It is the focus of intense debate in the media and by politicians, often sparked by visceral accounts of stops which have been filmed and shared on social media. Indeed, the tactic has become a lens to view wider concerns of trust, confidence and fairness in policing.

For some, stop and search is a necessary tool for tackling serious violent crime. Others regard it as an innately disproportionate practice which targets ethnic minority communities and young Black men in particular.

But there is little comprehensive research in the UK examining attitudes towards stop and search within Black communities. Where larger-scale, more robust academic studies exist, they tend to focus on broad research areas rather than on attitudes towards stop and search specifically.

We are therefore keen to address this key gap in the evidence base, by conducting methodologically sound research that explores attitudes towards stop and search against a backdrop of disproportionality.

The original research for this project will follow a mixed-methods design, including focus groups and quantitative polling, to build a richer understanding of public attitudes to stop and search.

What are we doing?


Phase one will consider the effectiveness of stop and search and the extent of disproportionality. It will include:

  • An evidence review of police and public data

  • A roundtable discussion and interviews with national-level experts and prominent voices on this issue

Phase two of the project will explore public views on the use of stop and search powers by police forces (as well as understanding what changes would make the biggest difference).

  • Evaluation of three alternative approaches currently being trialled and used systematically by forces

  • Eight focus groups in four areas across the UK

  • Quantitative polling of different population groups. The sample will be as representative of the Black population across England and Wales as possible, with specified quotas around the different demographic factors

Phase three will explore different approaches to the use of stop and search by police forces. This will involve convening a virtual ‘workshop’ to discuss the design of different approaches and possible reforms to improve trust and confidence in the process, including young people and police officers from different forces.

Call to Action


We are keen to work with members of the public, experts and leading figures over the course of our research, to advise us and ensure holistic engagement with the topic of disproportionality, stop and search and Black communities. If you are interested, please contact us at: amber.evans@crest.advisory. com.

Project Leads


Joe Caluori

A highly experienced researcher, campaigner and policy professional who has spent 18 years working in politics, national and local government, the voluntary and private sectors. Joe has specialised in policy development across a range of social and criminal justice areas including child criminal exploitation, county lines drugs networks, serious youth violence and drugs policy.

Amber Evans

As Senior Analyst in the Strategy and Insight team, Amber leads on qualitative and quantitative analyses across a range of research and consultancy projects. Before joining Crest, Amber worked at the Behavioural Insights Team, working across a range of policy areas, including children’s social care, education, early intervention, public health and tackling the spread of COVID-19.

Patrick Olajide

Patrick is Crest's Junior Analyst, working on a range of qualitative and quantitative research projects. He is an experienced facilitator, with a background in youth work, social justice advocacy and safeguarding.


This project is funded by The Hadley Trust.


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