Police body: MSPs ‘ignorant’ over stop and search

THE body representing Scotland’s police officers has accused MSPs of “frightening levels of political ignorance” following renewed controversy over stop and search.
The method has come under criticism. Picture: Lisa FergusonThe method has come under criticism. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The method has come under criticism. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Last week Police Scotland announced plans to end the use of so-called “consensual” stop and search after it emerged the force had carried out hundreds of searches on children under 12.

In an open letter to MSPs, Calum Steele, general secretary of the Scottish Police Federation, said he was worried politicians believed themselves to be in a position to dictate police policy.

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He wrote: “The debate on ‘non-statutory’ or ‘consensual’ searches has unearthed frightening levels of political ignorance.”

Mr Steele said politicians were “entirely correct” to question the use of consensual stop and search of children, but said they appeared to have “no interest” in the police’s version of events. He added: “It is an absolute reality that many children in our society are out and about in our communities without the slightest knowledge of their parents.

“Many smoke from their pre-teen years, many more drink and, yes, occasionally some also carry weapons and drugs. No amount of wishing it wasn’t so changes the fact that it is so, and no amount of hand-wringing changes the fact that police officers have to deal with thousands of calls every year involving pre-teenage youngsters.”

He said there were “lessons to be learned” from stop and search, such as parents taking greater responsibility for their children.