Reacting to confirmation by the PSNI of an error in authorising the use of stop and search powers during July and August, DUP North Antrim MLA and Policing Board representative Mervyn Storey said:
‘’We note acknowledgment of this administrative error on the part of the PSNI in relation to authorising stop and search. It is of course appropriate that steps are taken to redress the situation as soon as possible.
Governance arrangements for the authorisation and use of stop and search powers should be clear and transparent. A senior officer responsible for this function is defined in the Justice and Security Act 2007 as an officer of at least the rank of Assistant Chief Constable but it does not seem to explicitly exclude those acting at this level. Moving forward the legislation and operational guidance under which the PSNI must act must be self-evident to avoid a repeat of this confusion.
In equal measure this incident should not detract from the importance of these powers as a valuable deterrent against terrorist activity across Northern Ireland. In recent years the deployment of these powers have been adjudged to have been lawful and appropriate by numerous independent reviews. Although unacceptable this isolated incident should not deflect attention from the core aim of tackling serious criminality and preventing harm within our communities.’’