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Stop and Search: The Evidence

REPORT 1 (adult findings): Crime, policing and stop and search: Black perspectives in context
REPORT 2 (children findings): Forgotten voices: Policing, stop and search and the perspectives of Black children
REPORT 3 (recommendations): Stop and search: a plan for change
BLOG: Roundtable discussion with the experts
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 were 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 research for this project followed a mixed-methods design, including focus groups and quantitative polling, to build a richer understanding of public attitudes to stop and search.

How did we carry out the research?


Phase one considered 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 explored 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 was as representative of the Black population across England and Wales as possible, with specified quotas around the different demographic factors

Phase three explored 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.

Project team


Amber Evans

As Strategy & Insight Manager, 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 an analyst at Crest, 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.

Isabella Ross

A junior analyst at Crest, Isabella supports qualitative and quantitative analysis for research and consultancy projects. She recently graduated from University College London with a BA in Politics, Sociology and East European Studies, where she wrote her dissertation analysing the sociopolitical experiences of cannabis users under criminalisation, medicalisation, or decriminalisation policies of cannabis in three Eastern European countries.

Jon Clements

A former home affairs correspondent for ITN, Jon draws on two decades in the media, public affairs and the crime and justice sector to develop bespoke solutions to client challenges. Blending policy and communications, Jon works with charities, public inquiries and independent commissions.


This project is funded by The Hadley Trust.


The UK's only consultancy dedicated to crime and justice.

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