THE spiralling use of stop and search by Scottish police risks the “alienation of a generation”, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has warned.
Figures show 750,000 stop and searches were conducted by police in the last year, with 500 of children under the age of ten, Mr Rennie said.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions yesterday, he said: “I find it difficult to understand how children under the age of ten are in any position to give the police consent to search.
“Is [the First Minister] comfortable treating very young children like this?”
Mr Salmond replied: “What I am comfortable with is that 70 per cent of the stop and searches were consensual in terms of the regulations which were put forward. I am comfortable with the fact that, as Police Scotland has indicated, many of these stop and searches achieved the required result in terms of finding potentially offensive weapons or other aspects of behaviour.
“The thing that I am most satisfied with … is the sharp reduction in offensive weapon carrying, and also in knife crime and other serious crime.”
Mr Rennie said: “I am genuinely disappointed that the First Minister is so blasé about this encroaching police tactic without checks and balances.
“I think 750,000 people getting stopped and searched, 80 per cent getting no result and young children being targeted is something the First Minister should be concerned about.”
Mr Rennie said this practice risked the “alienation of a generation”, and challenged Mr Salmond to sanction an overhaul of stop and search.
Mr Salmond said: “I don’t accept for a second we are complacent or blasé about these matters.” He added stop and search was being scrutinised by the Scottish Police Authority and the parliament, and there was “no indication of complacency whatsoever”.