Police ‘offering vouchers’ for stop and search questionnaire

Researchers are being used to gauge the public's attitude to the force's use of stop and search with questionnaires. Picture: John Devlin
Researchers are being used to gauge the public's attitude to the force's use of stop and search with questionnaires. Picture: John Devlin
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A POLICE watchdog is offering the public £10 shopping vouchers to answer questions on their controversial use of stop and search.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has hired an independent research company to ask people in Dundee “for a minute of their time” in return for the £10 coupon.

The clipboard-wielding researchers – of the similar type sometimes used by charities to pester the public for cash – are being used to gauge attitudes to the force’s use of stop and search.

Since the creation of Police Scotland stop-and-search powers have come under fire, with critics describing them as excessive, invasive and contrary to human rights laws.

Despite calls for the unpopularity of stop and search to be taken into account, its critics have criticised the Dundee survey as a waste of money.

Research company Blake Stevenson is carrying out the survey on behalf of the SPA.

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The research was commissioned after a report from John Scott QC was delivered to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, calling for work to “assess the effect of stop and search on people’s attitudes towards the public.”

But Scottish Liberal Democrat Alison McInnes said: “If this research is indeed being carried out on behalf of the Scottish Police Authority it seems a very strange use of taxpayer’s money.”

Jennifer Lambert – of Blake Stevenson – said that shopping vouchers were not always offered to aid such research.

She said: “We don’t use it for all research, but with groups who are disengaged or harder to reach it can be useful.

A spokeswoman for the SPA added: “The SPA’s 2014 Scrutiny Inquiry into stop and search policy and practice by Police Scotland made a number of recommendations to improve the use of this important police tactic in Scotland.

“One specific recommendation on the SPA was to commission further research, in conjunction with others to specifically look at the short and long term impact of stop and search on different groups and communities.”