Police Powers and Procedures – the important stats

Created on November 27, 2017

Police Powers and Procedures - the important stats

This article explores statistics on various police powers in England and Wales up to the year ending 31 March 2017.  The article focuses of seven main areas:

  • Arrests
  • Stop and search
  • Best use of stop and search (BUSS)
  • Detention, road checks and intimate searches
  • Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs)
  • Breath Tests
  • Detention under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983

Key Findings


In the year ending March 2016, there were 886,516 arrests.  The following year saw a 12% reduction in arrests in England and Wales.  This continued the downward trend in numbers of arrests each year since 2008. 

Men represented 85% of those arrested year ending March 2017.  78% of those arrested, considered themselves to be White. 

37% of arrests were for violent offences against the person and 22% for theft related offences. 

Stop and search

Year ending March 2017 saw a fall of 21% stop and searches compared to the previous year when there was 383,595.  This is the lowest number since the collection of data recorded in  2002.  Arrest resulting from stop and searches also fell, by 14%.

Stop and searches have fallen in general but at different rates when broken down by ethnicity.  Stops of BME individuals have fallen by 11% however the fall in relation to White individuals being stopped and searched substantially exceeds this figure, at 28%. 


In the year ending March 2017, the outcome of 21% ( 1 in 5 ) of the stops and searches was linked to the initial reason for the search.    No further action was represented in 71% of the stop and searches and only 17% resulted in an arrest. 

Detention, road checks and intimate searches

In the year ending March 2017, part IV of PACE was used to allow the police to detain a person for more than 24 hours.  These 3,383 examples represent an increase the previous year of 2%.

There were 8 road checks carried out this year, which is 6 fewer than the previous year.  In terms of the 853 vehicles stopped this year saw a decrease of 70% in direct comparison with last year. 

In the year ending March 2017 there were 85 intimate searches, showing an increase of 8 searches compared to the previous year. 

FPNs and breath tests

Just shy of 2.4 million FPNs were issued for motoring offences in England Wales in 2016.  This represented a 1% drop with the previous year.  Over 82% of FPNs issues in 2016 were for speed limit offences, this was an increase of 1% compared with the previous year. 

Only 13% of those issued with a FPN faced court proceedings.  The driver restraining court has proved a popular alternative with 46% attending just exceeding the 40% of individuals who paid a financial penalty. 

In 2016, 13% of breath tests carried out were positive or refused, a 1% increase on the previous year.  A total of 463,319 breath tests were carried out this year, a decrease of 11% compared to 2015. 

Detentions under the Mental Health Act 1983

In the year ending March 2017, 26,328 detentions under the Mental Health Act represented a 2% fall compared with the previous year. 

Where the method of transportation was known, in 52% of the cases, a person was transported to a place of safety by a police vehicle.

In 4% of cases a police station was used as a place of safety in cases when there was no capacity at the Health Based Place of Safety. 

if you have been arrested by the police or you are currently being investigated for an offence of any description, and whether you have received legal advice already or not, contact Old Bailey Solicitors on 020 7846 4999 to arrange an appointment.  

Camilla Rents

Camilla Rents

Camilla has specialised in criminal defence work since 2010 and has particular experience in cases involving sexual offences, serious violent offences (including murder) and money laundering and fraud.

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