Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has slammed the cat and mouse games played by Police Scotland following the publication of a damning independent report into stop and search by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland today.
The report from HMICS, which began its investigations in October last year, revealed:
· The data on the consensual stop and search of children, recategorised after it was released to the BBC, continues to be incorrect. Contrary to the assurances given to Parliament, 83 children, rather than 18, were searched in contravention of force policy between June and December 2014.
· Officers in Scotland do not have definitive guidance or a common view of what should be recorded as a stop and search and there is no training on the application of consensual search.
· A widespread perception of targets around stop and search has led to negative behaviour, causing HMICS to recommend that the target for positive searches should be removed and the number of searches conducted should be removed from the performance framework.
· There should be no one size fits all policy.
· The entirety of stop and search data is unreliable and it can’t be used to make informed decisions about future policy and practice.
· Police Scotland and Scottish Police Authority should consult with the Scottish Government on the potential development of a statutory Code of Practice for stop and search to provide safeguards and guidance.
Commenting, Willie Rennie MSP said:
“I am tired of playing cat and mouse with Police Scotland bosses over the use of stop and search. It is high time we were given clear cut answers to our questions. This withering independent report from HMICS shows that everything we were told about targets, data and guidelines has been proven to be wrong.
“The complete failure of the police on this issue is exemplified by the fiasco of the figures on the consensual searching of children under 12. Even after reviewing and re-categorising these figures again and again, the statistics given by police bosses to Parliament and the SPA were completely inaccurate.
“Scottish ministers must make a statement to parliament setting out what they will do to get a grip of this. This must whether they will now back our plans for a statutory Code of Practice, as called for by the HMICS.
“This is a guddle which lies squarely at the door of Stephen House as Chief Constable and leader of this organisation. We will be asking the Justice Convenor to recall him to committee.”