The Met hopes that cutting back the number of random searches it carries out will have a positive impact on its relations with black and ethnic minorities in London.

Senior officers will be told to halve random drug stops and random stop and searches across wide areas.

It’s not the end of stop and search, however, but police will now target small, precise areas known to have high crime rates.

Met police stop and search policy has been the subject of furious debate as many feel it alienates young people from ethnic backgrounds who feel they are disproportionately targeted.

Research in 2010 by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the London School of Economics showed that there were 41.6 searches carried out under Section 60 for every 1,000 black people and 1.6 for every 1,000 white people.

Police have justified this by saying random searches help keep down crime rates.

The policy change comes a week after two men were convicted of the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, the culmination of an investigation in which Scotland Yard was branded “institutionally racist”.

Section 60 random searches were also widely quoted as being an aggravating factor behind 2011’s London riots.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said:

“We have reviewed stop and search policy and practice to examine ways of making its use more effective and of increasing public confidence.

“From this week, the MPS Commissioner has signed off implementation of a new approach will see a dedicated, experienced central team lead a wide range of changes affecting every element of stop and search with the aim of improving policy, practice, and performance across the board.”