Sadiq Khan wants to halt use of stop-and-search over cannabis smell

Met Police could halt use of stop-and-search if officers smell cannabis under action plan drawn up by Sadiq Khan amid fears it damages community relations and doesn’t reduce violent crime

  • Mayor of London  wants police to stop searching people just on basis of cannabis
  • He says stop and search when officers smell the drug on a suspect is wrong
  • The Metropolitan Police Federation disagree, describing the plan as ‘nonsense’ 

An action plan drawn up by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan could see the Met Police walk away from potential suspects if they smell cannabis – amid fears using stop-and-search damages community relations.

Mr Khan, who is currently standing for re-election, first mooted the plan five months ago, but restated it again yesterday.

The former Tooting MP, 50, set up a community group to scrutinise use of stop-and-search and make sure police do not halt people simply because they smell cannabis.

But the federation representing officers in the Met ridiculed Mr Khan’s plan as ‘nonsense’ and said it could let criminals run free.

Mr Khan said: ‘It is clear after listening to black Londoners and community organisations that more needs to be done to address their concerns.

‘The action plan sets out to respond to those concerns and a key part of that work is ensuring black Londoners and communities have a voice in scrutinising the Met’s use of stop-and-search, Taser and (other) use of force.’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in Bethnal Green in discussion with police officers last month

He has also ordered research into whether stopping suspected drug users has any beneficial impact on the fight against violent crime.

There have been complaints about stop-and-search disproportionately being used on ethnic minorities, with figures showing they are nine times more likely to be stopped.  

But the federation representing Met Police officers ridiculed the proposals.

Met Federation chairman Ken Marsh told the Telegraph: ‘What do you do when a drugs dog detects the smell of cannabis?

Met Federation chairman Ken Marsh branded the new stop-and-search plans ‘nonsense’

The smell of cannabis, pictured, will no longer be reason to stop and search in Mr Khan’s plan

‘Do you just walk away? It’s nonsense.’

‘It is clear that you have reasonable grounds as a constable under Section 23 of the Misuse of Drugs Act that you can stop any member of the public in a public place for breaching that legislation.’

Guidelines from the College of Policing guidance say searching someone for just one reason is bad practice.

Last year at least 577,000 searches were carried out in 58 per cent decrease from a decade ago.

They showed that nearly half of them were carried out by the Met.

The most people to be arrested from stop and searches per 1,000 of the population were in Humberside and the least were in Surrey

The increase in stop and searches was larger for white people this year (with an increase of 95,562 to 280,661) than for black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds people (who saw an increase of 55,215 searches to 185,401)

Last month a senior officer said police use of stop and search on black people had halved since last summer’s race protests as some think it’s ‘more trouble than it’s worth’.

Superintendent Simon Rotherham of Scotland Yard suggested the Black Lives Matter demos over George Floyd’s death in the US dented officers’ ‘fragile’ confidence.

About 7,000 black people were stopped and searched in London last month, down from 17,295 in May.

Supt Rotherham said: ‘We have officers say, ‘it’s not happening – unless I see the knife sticking out their back pocket I’d feel uncomfortable to do it’.’ 

He added that many frontline officers were wary of being filmed and the encounter ending up on YouTube or being scrutinised by the police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

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