Police stop and search should be ‘last resort’

Stop and search should only be used as a 'last resort', a new report suggests. Picture (posed by models): John Devlin

Stop and search should only be used as a 'last resort', a new report suggests. Picture (posed by models): John Devlin

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THE controversial police tactic of stop and search should only be used as a “last resort”, according to a new report.

The report, which was published today, also said there was a “clear impression” among police officers that targets existed for stop and search and that they should do “as many as possible”.

It also expressed concerns about police officers taking mobile phone numbers from members of the public to help assess the effectiveness of the pilot.

Published by the Scottish Institute of Policing Research and led by Dr Megan O’Neill of Dundee University and Dr Liz Aston of Edinburgh Napier, the research made a series of recommendations, including making stop and search a “last resort”.

It said: “We would recommend that stop and search, including the pilot approach, should be used as a last resort in any encounter with a member of the public, but especially with young people.

“Young people need to be engaged in non-coercive ways whenever possible, as do other vulnerable groups, even considering the good practice identified in the pilot.”

Police Scotland was heavily criticised earlier this year when it emerged it was continuing to stop and search young children, despite giving assurances the practice had stopped.

Garry McEwan, chief superintendent of Police Scotland’s Fife division, said: “Fife division embarked upon this pilot initiative to ensure the use of stop and search is transparent, meets the expectations of the public, captures good practice whilst informing policy and practice and crucially ensures the use of this tactic is lawful, ethical, proportionate and effective. We will now carefully consider the findings of this report which will inform our ongoing improvement plan.”

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