Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has today warned that an extraordinary lack of detail in the recording of police stop and searches acts as a barrier to ensuring racial equality is upheld by Scotland’s national police.
The warning comes after the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights (CRER) published a report today which said that the unreliability of data recording means that it is impossible to rule out racial profiling.
The report highlights that some communities in the west of Scotland are experiencing disproportionately high levels of stop and search. In South Ayrshire black communities face a stop and search rate of 6,403 per 10,000 population, compared to the national average of 1,206 per 10,000.
Commenting, Ms McInnes said:
“This report from CRER shows that an extraordinary lack of detail in the recording of police stop and searches acts as a barrier to ensuring racial equality in the activities of Scotland’s national police.
“Time and time again confusion over recording simple data throws up a myriad of wider problems for Scotland’s national force. The disproportionate number of searches carried out on some communities in Scotland and the inability of CRER to rule out racial profiling necessitates swift action from Police Scotland.
“The prolific use of stop and search across Scotland has already raised alarm bells because it is proportionately far higher than that of the Met or NYPD. If Police Scotland is to salvage its credibility on the use of this tactic then it must proactively seek to improve recording methods so that we can rule out racial profiling.
“It remains the case that only the Parliament can protect our fundamental civil liberties through ensuring that stop and searches always have a sound legal basis. In the face of Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s complacency this is something I will be pushing for.”