McArthur: Alcohol powers risked return of industrial scale stop and search

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today welcomed the Scottish Government’s decision to not create a new power of stop and search of young people for alcohol, highlighting that such a move would have risked a potential return of industrial scale and discriminatory stop and search.

Following a consultation, ministers today confirmed they would not introduce a new power to search children for alcohol, after it failed to find enough evidence to support its creation. It will review the policy 12 months after the new stop and search regime comes into force early next year. 

In 2015, Scottish Liberal Democrats succeeded in re-writing the law on stop and search in Scotland, banning so-called consensual searches and introducing a code of conduct governing the conduct of stop and searches underpinned by law. This was the culmination of an eighteen-month long campaign highlighting the illegal and intrusive nature of so-called consensual searches which led to hundreds of thousands of people being searched by the police without justification.

Responding to the news, Mr McArthur said:

“While it took a year to get here, ministers have made the right decision in dismissing the case for this new police search power. 

“Giving the police search powers in relation to an activity that isn’t illegal would have set an incredibly dangerous precedent and risked the return of industrial scale and discriminatory stopping and searching of young people. 

“Instead of criminalising children, the authorities need to work with young people to help them realise the dangers of alcohol misuse and ensure that, where there is a problem, families get the support they need.

“Under Police Scotland and the SNP Government, hundreds of thousands of people were searched without justification and without being told their rights. Ministers and the national force needs to put this debacle firmly behind them and ensure that it can never happen again. 

“That is why it is so important that we now make sure that the new code of conduct Scottish Liberal Democrats secured is robust and guarantees that every person stopped and searched by the police knows their rights and is treated with respect.”

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