Scottish Liberal Democrats have said that new figures on stop and search lay bare the full use of the tactic across Scotland. Year-end reports published by Police Scotland today show stop and search activity, amongst other crime information, broken down by council area and police division.
The figures show that Glasgow City had the highest stop and search rate at 3712 per 10,000 people. When broken down into age and gender, the figures showed that in Ayrshire, the stop and search rate for 16-19 year old men was as high as 23,963 per 10,000 population. In Dumfries and Galloway stop and searches increased by 19,318% in the one year since the creation of Scotland’s national police service.
Commenting on the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP said:
“Stop and search activity is an important part of a police officer’s toolkit. I have always been clear that evidence-led, regulated stop and search can be effective in detecting crime and making Scotland’s streets safer. However these figures lay bare the full use of the tactic in the year since the creation of Scotland’s national police force.
“In 19 of Scotland’s 32 council areas there has been an increase in stop and search activity. I was surprised to see that Dumfries and Galloway recorded a mind-boggling of 19,318% increase in stop and search activity in the space of one year.
“With the stop and search rate for 16-19 year-old men in Ayrshire as high as 23,963 per 10,000 of the population, I remain concerned that rolling out the Strathclyde approach is resulting in a wide-casting of the net rather than a targeted, evidence-led approach to stop and search. It is therefore disappointing that these figures do not tell us how many of these stop and searches were statutory and how many were voluntary – based on acquiring the persons consent rather than on any suspicion of wrongdoing. Nor do they tell us exactly how many 10 year olds were searched, which is a concern given these figures show the stop and search rate for 10 to 15 year-old boys in Glasgow city 9,753 per 10,000 population.
“It is unfortunate that the reliability of these figures remain so mired in controversy. Today’s figures show increases in positive stop searches for offensive weapons in each area. But only weeks ago it was uncovered that a third of ‘positive’ searches for offensive weapons didn’t find an offensive weapon. If we are to have the clearest idea about stop and search and the impact it is having on our communities we need clarity on the figures and greater regulation of the use of the tactic.”