Police could be given enhanced stop and search powers under new laws being planned by the government following a nationwide rise in violent crime.
A public consultation on changes to the “reasonable grounds” needed to legally justify searches will be launched in the coming days, The Independent understands.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is targeting acid, drones and laser pointers used to target aircraft, which are not encompassed by the current law.
It comes as police forces across England and Wales reverse a long-term decline in the use of controversial stop and search powers amid alarm over a wave of stabbings and shootings.
Some senior police officers say constables have become reluctant to use the measure because they fear racism accusations in the wake of figures showing black people were being disproportionately targeted.
Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that the “success rate” for searches was the same across races and that around a third of searches find banned items in London.
“Section one stop and search powers are essentially for weapons, drugs and stolen property,” she told LBC radio.
“Acid isn’t classified at the moment so an extension of the power to this would be very helpful for us and I would be all in favour for it.
“I think the home secretary is suggesting two other things – drones being one of them. We have to keep up with the times… drones are sometimes used by criminals or by people who have posed a threat to us, and officers should potentially be able to look for them.”
Asked about statistics showing black and minority ethnic people are four times more likely to be stopped than white people, Ms Dick said powers were being used “in an intelligent way against the people who cause most harm”.
“We are trying to protect the most vulnerable people and that is young black boys,” she added, saying young black men were statistically more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of stabbings.
Police are investigating London’s 99th homicide of the year after a 22-year-old man was shot dead in a cemetery on Monday morning, but insist that violent crime is “stabilising” overall.
The use of stop and search fell in England and Wales from a peak of 1.5 million in 2008/09 to around 304,000 in 2016/17 – the lowest number since current data records began 16 years ago.