Stop and search lay observer scheme
The best use of Stop and Search Scheme requires police forces to provide opportunities for members of the public to accompany police officers on patrol when they might deploy stop and search powers.
You can access stop and search maps, statistics and charts by visiting Police.uk, selecting your neighbourhood, and click “Stop and search”.
‘Lay observation’ allows a process of two-way learning to take place, bringing the police closer to the public. In this way, the Lay Observer Scheme will mean:
- Members of the public are provided with the opportunity to see stop and search in action;
- The police have the opportunity to demonstrate their use of stop and search;
- The public has the opportunity to provide feedback to the police based upon their observations.
I volunteered for the Stop Search Lay Observer Scheme in 2015 and have now completed two attachments. I was initially attracted to the scheme because I have an interest in the work undertaken by the police in my region and I also wanted to assist them with their obligations under the scheme. My first attachment was within York City Centre and the second was with the Road Crime Team. I observed a number of stop searches undertaken by police officers during my attachments. Afterwards I was asked to complete a survey to feed back my thoughts in respect of those searches.
I have thoroughly enjoyed both attachments and I have benefitted in understanding far more about officers’ roles and the work they undertake. The attachments have certainly made me look at the issues faced by the police in a different light whilst I have also provided them with an independent view as to how officers carry out stop searches. My time spent with the officers has been valuable for me and I consider my feedback is welcomed by them. I would certainly recommend volunteering as an observer with this scheme.
Applicants will need to be voluntarily vetted prior to being approved to accompany an officer. Applicants will also need to be flexible regarding the hours they accompany an officer, and the area where they patrol, although we will endeavour to find an area close to their home address.
Please note that the following restrictions apply:
- Applicants who are under the age of 18 will not be considered for this scheme.
- Participants will be restricted to one observation every six months.
- Applicants must reside within the North Yorkshire Police geographical boundaries.
- Applicants must have no serious or recent convictions that may be considered to pose a security risk. The decision as to whether an individual poses a security risk will be at the discretion of North Yorkshire Police following vetting procedures.
- Applicants are not entitled to reimbursement of any expenses incurred in connection with this scheme.
- Applicants must not already be members of North Yorkshire Police – this includes police volunteers, staff and special constables.
Stop and search doesn’t happen all the time and must be carried out only in specific circumstances, it might not be carried out at all during the observed patrol. Police will not look to stop and search for the benefit of the lay observer, this would likely render the search unlawful and it would be completely against the intention of the stop and search reforms.