New powers to let police search children for alcohol

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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NEW powers which would allow police to search young people for alcohol could be introduced following a public consultation, the justice secretary has confirmed.

Appearing before the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee yesterday, Michael Matheson brought forward a series of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill, which will see so-called consensual stop and search outlawed.

It follows the publication of a report earlier this month by an advisory group which found banning the controversial practice would not hinder Police Scotland’s ability to tackle crime.

Mr Matheson has already agreed to implement the group’s recommendations, including consulting on giving police new powers to search for alcohol.

Yesterday MSPs passed an amendment which will allow for legislation to stop and search children under the age of 18 for alcohol when police have a “reasonable suspicion”. The powers will also extend to adults thought to be “hiding” a child’s alcohol, the justice secretary said.

However, the final decision on whether to implement the legislation will depend on the outcome of the consultation.

Currently, police officers can confiscate alcohol from under-18s but have no specific power to search for it.

Mr Matheson said: “We are serious about implementing all of the (advisory group’s) recommendations swiftly and delivering on the new code of practice as soon as can be done practically. I have already said that we will carry out a consultation on new powers to search for alcohol.

“The advisory group were not able to form a concluded view on whether such a power was necessary or desirable, which is why they recommended a 

“I will make a decision as to whether a specific power is needed after the consultation. However, if it’s decided that such a power is needed, I would seek the parliament’s consent to introduce it in a timely manner.”

Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson said: “Whilst awaiting any decision, we are committed to ensuring that stop and search remains a proportionate and appropriate tactic available to officers to disrupt and prevent offending.”

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