Superintendent Diane Pownall of Merseyside Police has issued a statement regarding video footage circulating on social media that shows armed officers carrying out a stop search on two men in Toxteth last night (Monday 27 June.)
Superintendent Diane Pownall, said, “I would like to clarify circumstances surrounding this incident and why the stop search was required. Shortly after 9.15pm last night members of the public called us to report they had seen a man carrying a handgun at the junction of Princes Road and North Hill Street and he then tucked it in to his waist band.
“As with any reports of somebody being armed with a firearm, Armed Response Officers were authorised and deployed to the area. They saw two men on nearby Mulgrave Street, one of whom matched the physical description of the person and was wearing clothing that matched the clothing described.
“Again, in line with training and procedures the officers carried out an armed stop. Due to the report that a man had been seen with a firearm, handcuffs were used during the search. Having viewed body worn footage of the incident we can say that officers explained to both men why they had been stopped and the reason for the search and both men were co-operative.
“Nothing was found on either of the men and no further action was taken. At the end of the search officers double checked that the men understood why the search had taken place and were advised on how to make a complaint if they felt the need to do so, but neither of the men indicated that they wished to make a complaint.
“The body worn footage has been viewed and given the information received from the member of the public the stop search was justified and appropriate.”
“We understand the footage of armed officers stopping men on the street can look quite intimidating, but where we have reports of people armed with guns the safety of the public is our paramount concern.
“I have been in touch with our local Councillors and Kim Johnson, MP, who have raised concerns about the armed stop and have invited them to a meeting with myself and area Inspector Dave Uren, so that we can explain what the officers were responding to and why the approach they took was required, whilst at the same time listen to their concerns.”
Superintendent Pownall added, “The force is committed to ensuring that officers are professional and ethical when carrying out stop searches and take the time to explain to those they are searching why it is being done and what their rights are.
“The force abides by national guidelines and procedures in relation to stop and search and has an established force legitimacy team which has been pivotal in creating the independent public scrutiny panels (made up of members from our communities) for stop and search and use of force.
“These panels have been vital in helping us understand the impact of police use of powers on members of the public. The team uses the feedback to inform and develop organisational learning and to improve the quality of policing in our communities.
“They have also developed stop search cards, which allow members of the community to understand the law and know their rights in relation to stop and search. The force is committed to being open and transparent and has published its stop and search data on the Merseyside Police website to ensure transparency and to increase trust and confidence.
“We have embedded greater scrutiny of stop and search and use of force with members of the public involved, looking at body worn video of stop and searches conducted by our officers and providing feedback – positive and negative. Any learning for the organisation and positive feedback that should be reinforced is captured and shared.”