Call For Stop and Search Safeguards

31 March 2015, 11:33 | Updated: 31 March 2015, 11:34

A new statutory code of practice should be brought in for the controversial police practice of stop and search, according to a report.

A review by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) also called for stop-and-search targets to be removed and data collection and reporting to be improved.

HMICS has recommended a move from non-statutory or "consensual'' searches to those where a person is stopped under legislative powers.

A code of practice backed by law would set out clear principles and safeguards for the public, the report concludes.

It found that officers, supervisors and managers in Police Scotland reported there was too much focus on stop and search and staff wanted the 20% target for positive searches to be removed.

HMICS also said it had "no confidence'' in stop and search data held by Police Scotland due to a lack of guidance and processes within the force.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Derek Penman said: "We have suggested a way forward that should result in significant reductions in consensual stop and search across Scotland, whilst at the same time building a reliable evidence base to allow a more informed view on the future need for consensual stop and search.

"We have recommended a move towards legislative stop and search which, combined with improvements in recording practices, training, supervision and audit, should give communities across Scotland more confidence in the use of stop and search.

"We believe the development of a statutory code of practice would establish clearly-understood principles and safeguards for the public and would be particularly beneficial in providing clear and transparent guidance on the conduct of searches.''

Police Scotland is conducting a review of stop-and-search practices and the requirement for consensual searches.