POLICE Scotland says it is making improvements to its stop and search database after it emerged a series of errors had been made in the way it recorded and stored information.
Senior officers last week told MSPs that more than 20,000 records had been lost after “someone pressed the wrong button” while using the internal system.
It followed revelations that officers had incorrectly recorded searches of children under the age of 12 while using the “clunky” computer program.
Today the force told a meeting of the Scottish Police Authority that it had already begun making improvements to the system, including the introduction of a “pop up” box which queries officers when they input the age of a person who is 11 or younger.
It has also re-introduced weekly checks of stop and search data.
However, Chief Constable Stephen House faced calls to allow an independent review of the force’s data handling amid continuing concerns.
Sir Stephen told the meeting it would have been “perverse” not to address the issue of stop and search, given the focus on the issue over the past few weeks.
Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said: “We already introduced some improvements. We’ve introduced the recording of nominal information, including a date of birth field which can validate age as it’s being recorded. That has reduced the number of keystroke errors.
“A pop-up box appears on the screen if a officer inputs a date of birth which would make the individual 11 years or younger. That ensures officers check they have entered the right date of birth and also reminds them of the policy in relation to stop and search and searching young people under the age of 12.”
She said further improvements would be introduced over the next few months, including the ability to “flag” a stop and search record and send it back to an officer.
There would also be a new drop-down menu to prevent input error by narrowing down the amount of choice the use has, she said.
But Brian Barbour, a member of the SPA board, said there was a need for an independent review of how Police Scotland records data within its IT systems to make sure the processes are “robust”.
He said: “The stop and search database was introduced within the last year. I was disappointed to hear it described as clunky and surprised that 20,000 records could be lost and not easily recovered.
“I think the SPA should commission an independent review to make sure the process is robust.”
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