Police Scotland looks at ending non-statutory stop-and-search
Scotland’s police force is considering ending non-statutory stop-and-searches.
The first minister, Nicola Sturgeon (pictured), revealed to MPs that she discussed the issue with chief constable of Police Scotland Sir Stephen House after a BBC Scotland investigation.
The single force told MSPs last year that it would abolish consensual searches of children under 12.
But the figures indicate that 356 figures have nevertheless been subject to stop-and-searches since then. 91 per cent of these searches recovered nothing.
At first minister’s questions, Ms Sturgeon said: “I have spoken to the chief constable about stop and search.
“Following a six-month pilot in Fife, he is considering whether the practice of non-statutory or ‘consensual’ stop and search should be ended, and I welcome this.
“We need to ensure that the public can continue to be properly protected in the event that the practice comes to an end.
“I have therefore asked Police Scotland to consult with their partners, the Scottish Police Authority and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland on the way forward.
“I have asked that the cabinet secretary for justice is updated before the end of March, and I give an assurance that parliament will also be kept fully updated.”
She added: “Stop and search can be a vital tool in combating crime and in protecting the public, but there has been legitimate public concern about the practice of non-statutory searches which involve people being stopped in the street and searched after giving their verbal consent.
“The police should always have the resources and powers they need to combat crime, which is why we have delivered an extra 1,000 police officers, ensuring that our communities are properly protected. At the same time, crime has now fallen to a 40-year low.
“This government will always make sure police officers have the necessary tools, but at the same time it is vital that our police command the confidence of the public in going about their duties, and that is why now is the right time to review this practice.
“I look forward to the results of the consultation process and to Parliament being updated in due course.”
After Ms Sturgeon’s statement, deputy chief constable of local policing, Rose Fitzpatrick, said: “The public consistently tell us that tackling violent crime and anti-social behaviour are a key concern to them.
“Where it is targeted, intelligence led and used in the right place at the right time, stop and search is an effective and legal tactic that helps us tackle the priorities communities set for us.
“Alcohol searches have the highest positive rate for all stop searches carried out.
“The impact of alcohol on communities remains and in considering alternative measures to replace consensual stop searches, we will consult with our partners the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and HMICS to ensure that the health and well being of all our communities is protected through appropriate legislative powers.”