Stop and search - why Preston Police decided to use special powers in the city last night

When police were given special stop and search powers in part of Preston last night it was the second time such order had been made in Lancashire in just over a week.

Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 9:02 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th March 2019, 9:23 am
Police were out in force on the streets of Fishwick and St Matthews overnight.

British Transport Police authorised their officers to frisk people at Leyland Railway Station on March 4 following an attack by a knife-wielding gang on students at Runshaw College.

And as knife crime continues to rise - it has increased by more than a third in Lancashire in four years - the powers to stop and search are being more widely used nationally in a bid to halt a worrying trend.

Preston Police triggered a 12-hour order under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in the Fishwick and St Matthews areas of the city at 6pm last night after a 14-year-old schoolboy suffered "serious" multiple stab wounds in an attack in Samuel Street, off New Hall Lane, late on Sunday night.

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It was lifted at 6am today, but senior officers have the right to re-introduce it if they feel there is still a risk to the public.

Under the law a Section 60 stop and search order can be introduced if police believe that "incidents involving serious violence" may take place in their area.

They can do so if an incident involving serious violence has taken place and a dangerous weapon used in the incident is being carried in the area.

A Section 60 can be brought in for up to 24 hours. Police have the power to extend it for a further 24 hours if the threat remains.

Under the special measures officers can stop and search any pedestrian or any vehicle and its occupants in that area.

If weapons are discovered then police have the power to seize them. If a person or driver fails to stop when required to do so then they could face a prison sentence of up to one month, or a stiff fine, or both.

Under the order a dangerous weapon is deemed to be an implement with a blade or which is sharply pointed.

In the period from April 2017 to March 2018 Lancashire Police investigated 867 offences involving a knife or a sharp weapon - a 34 per cent increase since 2013/14.

But the force is keen to point out that it is still lower than the national average.