AVON and Somerset police are changing the way they approach stop and search by having open and transparent conversations with communities across the area.

In a recent stop and search summit held by the force they made several pledges to communities which detailed how they will improve the way they use the power.

Amongst their promised they will now improve recording, be more transparent with figures and to explore using bodycams to record stop and searches.

This work forms part of a wider promise by the Constabulary to ensure they use the stop and search power appropriately, proportionately and in a manner which is positive for communities.

Acting chief constable John Long said: “Stop and Search is an important power that we use to keep our communities safe and feeling safe. We are committed to ensuring the power is used correctly, fairly and proportionately by our officers, and that the reason for its use is communicated properly to the person who is stopped.

“We held the summit so that we could have an open and transparent conversation with our communities about stop and search and understand their concerns. I have pledged to examine our use of stop and search and explore how we can improve it.

Police and crime commissioner (PCC) Sue Mountstevens said: “The stop and search summit was a great opportunity to share experiences, feelings and ideas on stop and search and I’m pleased the police have now made some pledges to the local community to adopt some ideas which will improve stop and search.

“I’m sure it will be the first step on a path to a better, fairer and more informed use of stop and search. There will be a review in six months and I look forward to hearing about how the community feels it’s going.”

Earlier this year Avon and Somerset Constabulary were approached by a Bristol filmmaker who told us he wanted to produce a film on stop and search.

Michael Jenkins said he had been stop and searched many times in the past and that he wanted to create a film, working with the police, to reflect the stop and search experiences within communities.

After working with him for several months a five-minute film has been created for use on their website.

Michael Jenkins, of 8th Sense Media, said: “The process of making the film was insightful; I met a lot of black men that had the same experiences as me, and sometimes even worse.

“I also got stopped during the making of the film which further highlights the problem. The fact that being black means I am more likely to have an encounter with the police - positive or negative - is what is at the core of this issue.

“This film has helped to change my perception of the police allowing me to view them as people working with a given structure with all the pitfalls that come with that.

“It also showed me that individuals like Supt Mike Prior, Chief Insp Norman Pascal, the PCC and the Chief Officer Group are all working to make the police service more transparent and officers more accountable.”

The force has also signed up to the voluntary Best Use of Stop and Search scheme by the Home Office which is designed to contribute to a significant reduction in the overall use of stop and search nationally.

For more information on any of the above visit: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/