More than 50,000 children were ‘stopped and searched’ by police in West Yorkshire in the last five years - the highest number outside London.
And the force recorded the second highest number of children under 10 - the age of criminality - with a total of 133 stopped and searched in the same five-year period.
Home Office figures show during 2009 to 2013, West Yorkshire Police carried out 177,695 checks on adults and children.
The breakdown reveals 28.4% of all its ‘stop and searches’ were on children, the highest proportion of searches of any force since 2009.
The figures were used in a report by All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children which suggested that stop and search was used ‘’disproportionately’’ on black and ethnic minority children and young people.
But West Yorkshire’s Temporary Assist Chief Constable Andy Battle said: “In order to make our communities safe and keep them feeling safe, it is sometimes necessary to stop and search children and young people.”
“The power to stop and search, used in a sensitive and intelligence led way, is an effective tool which enables officers to gain crucial information to prevent and detect crime.
“It is vital however that these powers are used with professionalism and proportionality and we have independent scrutiny panels which look at stop search activity on a regular basis to assess how officers have used these powers and whether the use was both necessary and appropriate.
“The report recommends an annual review nationally by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary of the use of stop and search powers and we welcome this together with the learning that this would provide.
“On occasions where arrest and detention is considered to be the most suitable course of action for a child or young person, we work, when it is appropriate, with parents, carers and other professionals in the best interests of the child or young person. This supports their safeguarding, enabling officers to signpost them, whenever possible, to other support and assistance that may be available to them”.
Enver Solomon, of the National Children’s Bureau which runs the secretariat for the all party group, said the findings showed the need for a new approach by police when dealing with young people.
‘’Any child who comes into contact with the police should always be treated differently from an adult,’’ he said.
‘’For children who are at risk of exploitation, abuse or violence it is particularly important that the police know what steps to take to protect them and put their welfare first.’
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