Why has a Section 60 Stop and Search order been enforced in Milton Keynes and what does it mean?

A Section 60 order is currently active on the entire borough in a bid to track down people carrying weapons.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 12:04 pm
Updated Monday, 12th April 2021, 12:06 pm

The unusual move follow an incident yesterday where a group of offenders were armed with knives and baseball balls on a city estate.

During the altercation a teenage boy was hit on the head and knocked unconscious. He is still in hospital.

The fight happened just after midnight and by 3pm the Section 60 had been enforced. It will be active until 3pm today, when it may be extended if police deem it necessary.

Police do not need a reason to search someone when a Section 60 is imposed

Section 60 orders enhance officers' powers to stop people and search them without needing evidence to suspect they may be carrying weapons.

The move is not that is "not taken lightly" but is put in place to prevent further violence from happening, said Inspector Mark Lacey.

“I would encourage the public to feel reassured that this order is being put into place rather than alarmed, and if anyone wishes to speak to an officer then please do so," he said.

Without a Section 60 in place, police officer can only stop and search when they genuinely suspect that doing so will further their investigations into criminal activity – whether that means looking for weapons, drugs or stolen property.

The order today applies to the entire borough of MK

"Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 is different to normal stop and search as it gives police the right to search people without reasonable grounds. This can only happen in a defined area at a specific time when a senior officer believes there is a possibility of serious violence, or weapons are involved," said a police spokesman.

When they stop someone, officers will ask them to account for their actions or presence in an area. The search is not voluntary. If people do not cooperate, the officer can use 'reasonable force' to conduct the search.

The stop and search most often happens in public places. However, there are some powers, such as searching for firearms or drugs, which allow police to search people anywhere.

"If you're in a public place, you may be required to remove your coat or jacket and your gloves, unless you've been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity," said the spokesman,

"If the officer asks you to take off more than this, or anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, they must take you somewhere out of public view. This doesn’t mean you’re being arrested," he said,

"We're aware that the process may take a little time but it should be handled quickly and professionally. The police officer may ask a few questions and then, if they consider it necessary, will search you."

If the officer has a body worn video camera they'll record the encounter unless it's considered no longer necessary or proportionate.

You will not get a criminal record from being stopped and searched and if police officers do not find anything you will be allowed to go.