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New police chief goes to war on wokery: Officers SHOULD stop and search people who smell of cannabis says man taking over at watchdog as he issues 'common sense manifesto'

  • New policing watchdog says cops should search those who smell of weed 

  • He admits views are controversial but says stop and search can be 'preventative' 

  • Andy Cooke is also strongly against being excessively 'woke' in the police force 

  • He also believes police should be ‘more representative of their communities’ 


PUBLISHED: 22:00, 10 June 2022 | UPDATED: 15:41, 11 June 2022

Police should stop and search people who smell of cannabis, the new policing watchdog chief declares today.

In a wide-ranging interview, Andy Cooke risks the wrath of senior colleagues by saying officers should crack down on the class B drug.

The Chief Inspector of Constabulary believes such action could curb drug-driving and other crimes.

But his advice contradicts guidance from his own organisation. A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in 2017 found stopping suspected cannabis smokers did not increase the likelihood of a conviction.

In his outspoken interview, Mr Cooke admits that his views on cannabis stop and searches are controversial but insists they can be a ‘preventative tool’ to keep citizens safe. ‘If officers stop a car with a number of people in and there is a smell of cannabis in that vehicle, as a chief my expectation would have been that they search that car,’ he says.

The former Merseyside Police chief adds: ‘Not every chief may share that opinion and the College of Policing may not share that opinion and other people may not share that opinion. But it’s important that you look at stop and search as a preventative tool.

Hard line: The Chief Inspector of Constabulary Andy Cooke in Liverpool with Home Secretary Priti Patel, who appointed him in April

Soft line: An officer on duty with his rainbow helmet and rainbow face paint on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Mr Cooke has railed against 'wokeness' in the force

If you smell cannabis in the car there is a really good chance that someone is driving that car under the influence of drugs.

‘That’s a danger to other people on the streets. The preventative nature of stop and search is massive and that visible representation of police action on the streets utilising stop and search correctly on an intelligence-led basis is massive as well, so people should not be shy of doing it.’

Andy Cooke's common sense manifesto 

Stop and search suspected cannabis users.

Don’t make being ‘woke’ a priority.

Get back on the beat and catch criminals.

No ‘widescale’ work from home for police.

Chief constables to get ‘back on ball’ on performance.

Police stations must never be phased out.

Asked whether someone on the streets smelling of cannabis should face the same sanction, he replies: ‘Every circumstance is different and I would expect an officer to use their communication skills to identify whether it is relevant to stop search that individual. It’s about keeping people safe.’

But in 2020 the Independent Office for Police Conduct said it was ‘not good practice’. And the 2017 HMIC report said: ‘The Authorised Professional Practice sets out that the smell of cannabis on its own, with no other contributory factors, will not normally justify a search.’

Mr Cooke argues that criminals should fear the police: ‘If policing isn’t visible on the streets and if policing isn’t doing the actions on the streets that deter criminality, then that obviously encourages people to do things that they would not do otherwise.

‘It’s not just stood on street corners. It’s taking action against the issues that are ongoing, problem-solving when necessary, stop and searching where necessary, providing that visible deterrent to criminality and that visible reassurance to communities.’

One issue that is not on Mr Cooke’s list is being ‘woke’.

‘It’s like many titles that are thrown around, I just don’t see the benefit of it really,’ he explains. ‘Everyone is different. You can’t put everyone into a woke pot or a non-woke pot.’

He also believes that the police should be ‘more representative of their communities’ and hire more older candidates: ‘I’d be concerned if the vast majority of new recruits into policing were in the 18 to 20 age bracket.’

Mr Cooke calls for a return to targets to boost crime detection rates because ‘performance has become a bit of a dirty word’ in policing. Chief constables, he says, need to focus on what the public expect – to ‘catch the bad people and place them before the criminal justice system’.

He was appointed chief inspector of constabulary by Home Secretary Priti Patel in April.

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