SPA publish review of stop and search

Date: 3rd June 2014
Category: Disability, Basic Health and Welfare, Civil Rights and Freedoms

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has published 12 recommendations aimed at improving the targeting, effectiveness and transparency of the use of stop and search tactics by Police Scotland.

It has highlighted a number of areas for improvement around targeting, proportionality, training, data gathering, transparency and consent.

Key recommendations include:

  • Improved data collection and analysis by Police Scotland, to make stronger the connection between intelligence, the threat of crime, and the stop and search activity undertaken.
  • Increased public reporting of stop and search data to enhance transparency and to ensure the public are better informed of their rights, including the right to decline.

The review also highlights the need for wider policy consideration within the criminal justice system around the lack of statutory powers to search for alcohol, and the need for more research on the long-term impact of stop and search of particular groups and communities, especially young people.

The review findings included the fact that young people aged 15-19 years are more likely to be stopped, with 223 children aged 9 or under also recorded as having been stopped and searched.

In January 2013, Together raised the concern that the use of stop and search by police on children is disproportionate and based on a desire to meet targets, rather than an intelligence-based assessment of risk. Our concern was highlighted in a letter which was subsequently published by a number of newspapers including Herald Scotland and The Scotsman.

Together highlighted that disproportionate use of stop and search on children is unacceptable and calls into question whether children's rights, such as the freedom of movement and peaceful assembly (as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNCRC), are being ignored in Scotland.