NEARLY two thirds of suspects stopped and searched by police in Worcester last year were found to be carrying nothing of interest.

The finding comes as the use of stop and search has decreased, with the number of searches in the city down from 404 in March 2017 to 266 a year later – a drop of 34 per cent.

West Mercia Police say that whilst the number of searches has gone down, more have resulted in a positive outcome.

Overall, 4,813 stop and searches were made in the year up to March - 3,115 of which produced nothing of interest.

Drugs proved to the predominant reason for stopping people – making up 61 per cent of searches.

Of those that were searched, nothing was found on around 63 per cent of people and one in five were arrested.

In addition, 570 were stopped for offensive weapons, including knives, 707 for stolen goods and 62 people were stopped for firearms.

In searches that did prove fruitful, 1,015 were arrested.

In total, 23 people received cautions, 269 received drug possession warnings, 33 were given penalty notices and 55 were summonsed to court.

Chief Inspector Sharron Cannings said: “Stop and search is an important power and method of engaging with the public that enables us to maintain order and create safer places for people to live.

“We have put in place a number of improvements to support our officers following on from the recommendations from reviews of stop and search carried out in recent years.

“Our officers are now using their stop and search powers in more targeted way by proactively using local intelligence to target the appropriate people in order to tackle crime and keep the streets safe for our communities.

“As a result of these improvements, we have seen an overall reduction in the number of stop and search being carried out but have seen increases in our positive outcome rates.

“Stop and search remains a legitimate way for police officers to prevent crime but we acknowledge that it must be used sensitively and appropriately.

“Importantly, officers must have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect offences before they can use the power.”