Liberal Democrats are demanding the First Minister sets the record straight after claims that ministers and Police Scotland tried to pressurize an academic over research into the practice.
The report by researcher Kath Murray revealed people in Scotland were four times more likely to be searched than those in England and Wales. The report also showed that around 500 children under ten years of age had been subject to the tactic.
But it came as a new poll found more than half of Scots have backed the policing policy of stop and search.
Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House faced a grilling from MSPs at Holyrood last week after it emerged that the practice was still being carried out on under-12s – despite an earlier pledge to end this.
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This seedy collusion to manipulate independent research shows the lengths the leadership of Police Scotland and the SNP government were prepared to go to shore up support for an indefensible policy.
“It calls into question the ethics of the SNP Government and of the police chiefs. It’s a scandal which commands a full explanation from the First Minister.
“The First Minister must make an urgent statement to parliament to explain how this was ever allowed to happen.
“This puts further importance on our case for all stop and search must be put on a legal footing to protect our civil liberties.”
Meanwhile, a Survation poll of 1,000 Scots found that 56 per cent said police should be allowed to continue the practice, compared to 31 per cent who said it should be discontinued.
The survey found that 38 per cent of Scots thought the level of service offered by police in Scotland was slightly or much poorer since the creation of the single police force in 2013, while almost a third (30 per cent) said there had been no change.
Just 15 per cent rated Police Scotland’s service as slightly or much better since the merger of the eight regional police forces.
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS