13:43 GMT +322 September 2018
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    Police officers question men during a routine stop and search operation in Hackney, North London.

    UK Home Secretary Steps Up Plans to Give Police More Stop & Search Powers

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    UK Gang Violence (17)
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    In a move which distances the current home secretary from the legacy left by Theresa May, Sajid Javid wants to give police officers more powers to stop and search anyone suspected of carrying a weapon, including acid, without good reason.

    Officers are currently only allowed to stop and search a person if they have 'reasonable grounds' to suspect they are carrying illegal drugs, weapons, stolen property or something which could be used to commit a crime, for example, a crowbar. 

    A report published by the Home Office in October 2017 suggested Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups are four times as likely to be stopped and searched compared to White people. Black people are eight times more likely to be stopped by police and searched than White people. 

    Only one in five searches are linked to why the individual has been stopped by police in the first place; 71 percent resulted in 'no further action' between January and March 2017, according to a government report

    In response to the announcement that police stop and search powers would be extended, London Labour MP Chuka Umunna said it "demeans" young black people. 

    "Lambeth, which I represent, had one of the highest rates of stop and search in the country. Stop and search has its place but too often is used in a way that demeans and humiliates young black people in particular," Chucka Umunna said. 

    A Home Office spokesperson told London newspaper The Times, "We care looking at ways to strengthen police powers to identify individuals carrying corrosive substances."

    However the expansion of stop and search powers by police could, according to academic Dr. Megan O'Neill, a police, surveillance and stop and search expert, "harm police-community relations."

    "My concern is that #stopandsearch is routinely seen as a tool of prevention when it is fundamentally an investigative tool. And misuse of that tool can cause a great deal of harm in police-community relations," Dr O'Niell tweeted.

    READ MORE: 'Tragic Example': Teenager Jailed for First UK Acid Attack Killing

    Acid has become a weapon of choice among gang members because it's easy to hide from police and available to buy online. More than 400 acid attacks were recorded between November 2016 and April 2017, an average of two attacks a day. 

    Rachel Kearton, assistant chief constable of Suffolk Police and National Police Chiefs Council lead on corrosive attacks recently said the UK had the highest rates of acid-related crimes — yet the real number remains hidden. 

    "The UK now has one of the highest rates of recorded acid and corrosive substance attacks per capita in the world and this number appears to be rising," Rachel Kearton told reporters in London. 

    During a spate of acid attacks last summer, police officers in London were given emergency acid response kits including water and protective equipment to treat victims on the scene. 

    There have been 104 acid attacks in London between January and May this year, according to statistics obtained by Vice

    READ MORE: Five Men Charged in 'Absolutely Pure Evil' Acid Attack on British Toddler

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    UK Gang Violence (17)

    Related:

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    UK Guns and Knives Crackdown Increases Rise in 'Shocking' Acid Attacks
    UK Acid Attacks: Hidden From View and on the Rise
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    acid attacks, Sajid Javid, Theresa May, United Kingdom, London
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