LBC's NIck Ferrari put a minister on the spot over the new stop and search measures (Photo: LBC)
Home office minister Rachel Maclean struggled to explain the changes to the controversial new stop and search powers just announced by the government during an awkward interview.
Home secretary Priti Patel revealed on Monday that she was lifting restrictions on police stop and search in areas where they anticipate violent crime.
Listed in section 60 of the criminal justice and public order act, this means officers can search people and look for weapons without reasonable grounds in certain areas.
Restrictions on these controversial powers were initially introduced back in 2014 because stop and search was criticised for the disproportionate impact it had on people of colour.
Lifting these police limitations is not expected to go down well, especially as they come at a time when the government is already being accused of not looking after people during the cost of living crisis.
LBC’s Nick Ferrari then locked horns with a minister on Monday over what these changes actually will do. He asked: “How long is a section 60 in place for?”
Maclean said there were various periods set out in the paperwork, but that she “thinks” the time is 12 hours.
“I think it depends on the particular intelligence in the area. It has to be renewed on a proportionate basis. When the intelligence is renewed, and when the risk is no longer there,” she explained.
“Clearly when the risk is no longer, then the section 60 will no longer be there.”
Ferrari quickly replied; “But... it’s not 12 hours is it? That’s one of the new factors isn’t it? It’s 24 hours isn’t it?”
“Oh forgive me, 24 hours – I need another coffee.”
— LBC (@LBC) May 16, 2022
“OK....and it wasn’t 12 prior to that, was it minister, it was 15.”
Ferrari continued with his grilling, pointing out: “You’re the minister who has been briefed for this, I’m merely the journalist asking the questions.
“So I’ll put it to you again – superintendents needs to have authorise the extension. What hours are we talking about minister? You’re the person who’s briefed.”
“No, I’m being quite upfront with you, I haven’t got the paper in front of me. Forgive me,” she said with a smile.
Ferrari said: “Do you not think you should know, minister?”
“Well, I do know, but the fact is –”
“Do share then, so sorry.”
She replied: “You’re doing a very good job of demonstrating that clearly I don’t have the papers in front of me now.”
“You’re the minister who has been put forward to do this [...] I’m asking you about the thing you’ve been sent out to do and you don’t know.
“Why should my listeners have confidence in this?”
“Because I am part of the government and the home secretary and the policing minister who have put these powers in place and are listening to the chief constables and what they’ve asked for,” she replied.
Ferrari then offered the answer to the minister, explaining: “A section 60 can be extended to 48 hours, rather than the current 39.”
The minister also tried to justify why these stop and search measures even needed to be introduced to reduce knife crime.
“We want to continue to bear down on this violent crime,” she explained.
Maclean said it was part of a wider response from the government, including providing “other things for young people to do” other than engage with knife crime.
She added: “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a mother, watching my child go out of the door and thinking, ‘will he or she come home tonight?’”
"What we've seen with our stop and search approach is we have actually taken knives off the streets."
The police have asked for more power and flexibility using stop and search, home office minister Rachel Maclean tells #TimesRadio, as Priti Patel lifts tactics restrictions. pic.twitter.com/4x1p04fOMi
— Times Radio (@TimesRadio) May 16, 2022
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.