Stop and Search Review: new advisory group

Date: 14th April 2015
Category: Freedom of association and peaceful assembly

A new independent advisory group chaired by prominent solicitor advocate John Scott QC, is to be established to examine the use of stop and search powers in Scotland.

The new Stop and Search Advisory Group has been established after Police Scotland issued a report confirming that from now on there will be a presumption against consensual - or non-statutory - stop and search for all age groups. The police report also confirms that children under 12 will not be subject to consensual stop and search.

The new independent advisory group will contain members from a range of key organisations including those representing human rights, children's groups and policing, and be asked to make recommendations to Scottish Ministers, including:

  • Whether the permanent presumption against consensual stop and search for all ages goes far enough.
  • Whether, further to that, there should be an absolute cessation of the practice.
  • Any additional steps that require to be taken, including any consequent legislation or change in practice that might be necessary.
  • To develop a draft Code of Practice that will underpin the use of stop and search in Scotland.

The announcement was made by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP in response to two reports published on stop and search in Scotland - a review by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and the Police Scotland review of its own practices.

The Advisory Group, which will have a broad membership, will make recommendations for Scottish Ministers to consider by August 2015. This timescale would allow any possible legislative changes to be included as part of proposals for the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill.

Together has raised 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. Together has also highlighted that disproportionate use of stop and search on children 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 respected and protected.