Police federation stresses value of ‘public co-operation’

John Scott QC

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) has defended the use of non-statutory stop and search by Police Scotland, despite criticism from politicians and the UN.

It said that moves to limit the use of stop and search were attempts to limit consensual co-operation between police officers and the general public.

The organisation, which represents over 16,500 members in Police Scotland, said legislative changes designed to limit the use of stop and search would be “frankly illiberal” and “result in serious crimes not only going unpunished but also undetected”.

John Scott QC is heading an independent advisory group which will review the use of stop and search by the force.

Scottish Legal News reported last week that the UN’s human rights committee had joined those voicing concern about the “non-statutory searches undertaken on a large scale by Police Scotland, that appear to involve, inter alia, the selective application of such measures in a manner which is allegedly unlawful and disproportionate”.

However, the SPF said in a new briefing on stop and search that police would not have secured a recent conviction for the 1977 murders of Christine Eadie and Helen Scott without a voluntary DNA sample.

The SPF claimed this showed the danger of “actively prohibiting police/public co-operation”, which they linked directly to non-statutory stop and search.

In the briefing, the SPF wrote: “The solution(s) to the brouhaha over what has become known as stop and search will not be ‘fixed’ by introducing the frankly illiberal proposals to remove the ability of the public to cooperate with the police.”

It added: “The ability of the public to cooperate with the police should be entirely unfettered by the legislature.”

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