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Police Stop and Search “Disproportionate” Number of Young People

According to the Police Scotland public scrutiny body, the focus on stop and search continues to be on young people.

The watchdog stated that there is “a disproportionate” number of young people being stopped and searched by police despite the group continuing to have the fewest number of illegal items found on their person. This comes despite a severe reduction in stop and search activity by the police following concerns about the tactic from the Scottish Government and many experts.

The Advisory group on Stop and Search stated that the tactic “has been used disproportionately, particularly on children and young people”. The group also recommended that “consensual or non-statutory stop and search of the person in Scotland should end” once a new Code Of Practice is drawn up.

Statistics on Stop and Search Scotland

Despite criticism of the stop and search policy with many experts calling for the practice to cease, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) revealed that many searches continue to take place, especially with those under the age of 17. Teenagers are targeted the most despite being the least likely to be found with anything while those in their late 20s are targeted the least despite being the most likely to be carrying something.

Last year, the number of stop and searches carried out in Scotland fell drastically with a decrease of 81%. Between June and August of 2015, there was a decrease of close to 100,000 searches when compared to the same period in 2014.

Those aged 12-15 saw the lowest proportion of total searches, with only 8.5% of said category involving said age group. The group also had the lowest amount of positive searches (12.6%) overall.

Outside this demographic, people aged 16-19 saw the most searches (22.1%) but the fewest positive searches (18.8%) while  people aged 25-29 saw the fewest searches (12.8%) but the with the most success (28.1%)

No consensual searches of children under the age of 12 were recorded, however, three searches on children below the age of 12 were legally carried out concerning the misuse of drugs, stolen property, and bladed weapons respectively.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “As our recent improvement plan update showed, the service has made positive progress in relation to stop and search.

“Police Scotland has been working hard with a wide range of stakeholders, including young people, to make improvements and while there is still more to do, the update recognises just how far we have come.

“Our focus will continue to be on fully completing our improvement work and on ensuring that stop and search is used on an intelligence-led basis as a proportionate and effective policing tactic.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The recently published Police Scotland improvement plan outlines the significant progress that the service has made in improving its practices around stop and search.”

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