A new independent scrutiny panel is being launched next week to ensure members of the public have a voice in analysing police procedures in County Durham and Darlington.

The first ever BUS panel, which stands for BAME Arrest, Use of Force and Stop and Search will be introduced on the 21st January by the Office of the Durham Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner (ODPCVC).

Every year Durham Constabulary stop and search thousands of individuals and, if required, during arrests, officers may use proportionately applied force.

As such, the ODPCVC has set up their first BUS panel to allow members of the public to independently scrutinise the use of powers applied by officers.

The panel is made up of members of the public who are asked to analyse records and review body worn video to ensure that correct procedure is being followed appropriately by the Force.

The aim is to ensure there is full transparency, improve confidence in policing and encourage best practice.

The panel will be conducted every three months and a representative from the panel will make viable recommendations to the ODPCVC as to how processes are being applied by officers.

Steve White, Acting Police, Crime and Victims’ Commissioner, said “I am very pleased to announce the launch of the BUS panel and look forward to seeing how the analysis from independent members will influence policing procedures. The purpose of the panel is so that members of the public can independently scrutinise the police use of powers, ensuring greater transparency and community involvement. Panels like this one will allow for community concerns to be raised, which in turn can influence police actions.”