Public to be consulted over alcohol search powers

YOUNG people are to be consulted over plans to hand Police Scotland new powers to search for alcohol.

YOUNG people are to be consulted over plans to hand Police Scotland new powers to search for alcohol.

The national force wants new legislation to plug a gap it believes will be created by scrapping non-statutory stop and search.

Last year an expert panel led by John Scott QC called for the controversial tactic of non-statutory (or “consensual”) stop and search to be abandoned after it emerged police officers were routinely searching young children.

The Scottish Government has now launched two public consultations, one to examine a new code of practice governing stop-search and the other to look at the need for specific legislation which would allow officers to search young people for alcohol.

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

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “The fact that stop and search has led to the seizures of dangerous weapons, drugs and stolen goods shows how it can be a valuable tool in combating crime.

“However, it is important that police get the balance right between protecting the public and the rights of the individuals.

“We are particularly keen to hear from young people who have experience of being stopped by the police. Their views will help us to consider the best possible way to tackle the issue of children and young people drinking.”

Last year Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick warned the removal of consensual stop-search would entail a “significant consequence and loss” for the police, leaving a gap which would need to be filled.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: “Stop and search is a really valuable tool which officers can use in an intelligence-led way to help deal with issues like anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, theft and disorder.

“We have been working through a substantial programme of improvement around the use and recording of stop and search. The consultation on the new code and the powers of search for alcohol mark another significant milestone and step forward.”