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Police ‘Stop and Search’ Powers

The Scottish Government has published a code of practice setting out the principles that determine when police can use ‘stop and search’ powers.

Promoting public safety and preventing and detecting crime are recognised as the main aims of stop and search in the code, which will come into force in May, if approved by Parliament.

Recognising that being stopped and searched by police is a significant intrusion into liberty and privacy, the code sets out that use of powers must be necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law.

The Government has worked with an Advisory Group of experts, led by John Scott QC, to draft the code, and its creation received widespread support from a public consultation.

Specific guidance on stop and search of children and vulnerable adults was added to the code after feedback from the public.

“Stop and search is a valuable tool in combating crime, but we must ensure a balance between protecting the public and recognising the rights of individuals,” explained Justice Secretary Michael Matheson. “This new code is about finding that balance and maintaining the trust between the police and the public.”

“With this new code we will ensure stop and search is carried out with the fairness, integrity, respect and accountability that we expect from our police officers in all of their duties,” he said.

"Police Scotland has made real progress in relation to its use of stop and search and very much welcomes the introduction of the code,” added Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams. “We are currently training all our officers in advance of its introduction to ensure we are fully prepared."

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