Scottish Police have come under fire for their ‘shambolic’ stop and search procedure, which unfairly targeted children – and amounts to nothing less than social conditioning.
According to a report by a police watchdog, police stopped and searched over 25,000 children last year, 223 of searches being conduced on children under the age of nine years old.
The watchdog also found that 25,324 children were aged between 10 and 14.
30 per cent of searches (19 157,368) were conduced on teenagers aged between 15.
In a report by the Daily Record, Deputy Chief Constable for local policing Rose Fitzpatrick said: “Last year there were 654 fewer victims of violence, 64,000 fewer incidents of disorder and 53,000 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour and we believe that stop-and-search has had a big role to play in that.
“Scottish Government research in Edinburgh showed 29 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds admitted that they had carried a knife as a weapon.
“Stop-and-search last year recovered over 25,000 incidents of alcohol being carried by young people, and it’s important to recognise that the misuse of alcohol by young people puts themselves at risk from harm from violence and sexual assault.
“From 640,000 stop-and-searches conducted last year we received only 34 complaints.”
She added: “There are no targets for volume and no targets for numbers of stop-and-search and that’s continued into the second year of Police Scotland.
“All details of searches will be recorded on that database.
“Those will be nominal details where they are given, descriptions where people don’t wish to give their names and addresses in connection with a consensual search.
“We also record the details of the officer, the reason for the search and also for the outcome. We will have all of that in one place and will be able to use it to better inform our work in future.”
Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “The report shows just what a shambles stop-and-search has been in Scotland.
“The Justice Secretary has consistently said that he does not recognise the concerns which I have raised about Police Scotland’s use of non-statutory stop-and-search. Today’s report should make him think differently.
“We heard that officers felt under pressure to carry out searches, that many had had little training since their probationary period and that the proportionality of stop-and-search in certain areas was questionable. The review also concluded that there was no causal link between the reduction in violent crime and stop-and-search activity.
“The First Minister, Justice Secretary and Chief Constable have all defended the use of stop-and-search as a key tactic in the reduction of violent crime. They are now looking increasingly isolated and are left with serious questions to answer after their stout defence of Police Scotland’s use of stop-and-search.”
Conservative justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: “We’ve always maintained that stop-and-search, when applied properly, can contribute to tackling violent crime.
“This report, however, undoubtedly challenges the common wisdom that such a measure is the main cause for a lowering of violent crime levels across Scotland.
“Police Scotland need to provide a full explanation as to the misuse of this practice and outline clear steps that will correct this in the future.
“Kenny MacAskill must also decide whether the law surrounding stop-and-search is fit for purpose.”
Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said stop-and-search “has contributed to violence and anti-social behaviour reductions across Scotland”.
“We will take all appropriate steps to ensure that stop-and-search is carried out as part of our engagement with the public, to detect weapons, drugs and alcohol and to deter people from carrying these in the future.
“We will also ensure that it is done in an intelligence-led way with respect for the rights of individuals so that the public have confidence and trust in the policing service that we offer.
“We have and we will continue to consult and listen, understand and improve our procedures in this area.
“A large amount of further work is well under way to make improvements to ensure that stop-and-search remains an essential component to support Police Scotland’s drive to keep people safe and continues to increase public confidence in the police beyond the 80 per cent plus that it already has.
“While I am confident that we have gone a considerable way to strengthen our stop-and-search procedures, the recommendations we have just heard contained in the report provide an opportunity for us to further address concerns and to review, develop and improve our processes and communications even more.
“We fully accept that processes and communications can and should be improved.”