Serious Violence Reduction Orders – Do they work?

Serious Violence Reduction Orders (‘SVRO’) are a new police stop and search power being piloted by forces in England and Wales. The orders were created by the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

SVROs can be given to people who are convicted of an offence, if the court believes that the individual used or was in possession of a knife or bladed article when the offence was committed.

An individual can also be given an SVRO if someone they were with during the committing of an offence used or was in possession of a knife or bladed article, and they ‘knew’ or ‘ought to have known’ that the other person was in possession of a knife or bladed article.

When an SVRO is applied, the same individual can be subject to stop and search by any serving police officer under the SVRO power. Unlike most other stop-and-search powers, under an SVRO police officers have no legal requirement to have an evidence-based reason (i.e. ‘reasonable grounds for suspicion’) to stop and search an individual. Officers can stop and search an individual labelled with an SVRO at any time and in any location, simply by virtue of the SVRO being in place.

Failure to comply with an SVRO condition without a reasonable excuse, or obstructing a police officer in the exercise of a SVRO-based stop and search, can lead to a prison sentence of up to two years.

From their inception, SVRO powers have generated a great deal of controversy. Successive home secretaries have defended the power as way to deter violence and ‘break the cycle of offending’, but various human rights groups, academics and politicians have raised objections to the power, citing a wide array of concerns about civil liberties, racial disproportionality, joint enterprise policing and collective punishment, practical ineffectiveness, and a lack of transparency about the rolling out of the powers.


Do they work?

The Runnymede Trust has reviewed the use of these new powers and concludes:


As a result, the Runnymede Trust is urging policymakers to:


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