The County You Live, Work And Play
Stop And Search
Lanarkshire is one of the areas in Britain where police are most likely to stop and search someone. New figures for the county reveal that there were 112 searches per 1000 of the population – significantly ahead of London, where the number was 35 per 1000.
Research for 2014/15 showed there were 73,019 searches in Lanarkshire, a drop of 27 per cent from the previous year.
The Lanarkshire figure for 2013/14 was 99,506 – which equalled 152 searches per 1000 of the population.
And statistics for 2012/13 show there were 97,004 searches in Lanarkshire – or 148 per 1000 of the population.
Seven of the 10 UK police divisions most likely to use stop and search were in Scotland, research from Edinburgh University’s Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR ) found.
Divisions located in the area formerly controlled by Strathclyde Police occupied the top five places. Lanarkshire was fourth with the figure of 112 per 1000 of the population, behind Greater Glasgow (191), Renfrewshire and Inverclyde (189) and Ayrshire (144). Argyll & West Dunbartonshire was fifth (110) and Edinburgh was sixth (49).
Nationally, in the first year of Police Scotland’s existence (2013/14), the number of searches fell from just under 683,000 in the previous year to just over 640,000. In the second year, the figure dropped to just under 427,000 – a decrease of almost 40 per cent over two years.
The fall in the number of recorded searches does not appear to have led to increased levels of recorded crime, the findings show.
Researchers suggest that Scotland’s high stop and search figures may be linked to a combination of performance management, weak regulation and a lack of accountability and scrutiny prior to 2013.
The report also suggests that the recent fall in stop and search is likely the result of media and political scrutiny following the Police Scotland merger.
Kath Murray, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Law, said: “The overall trends in the report are encouraging, and it is clear that Police Scotland is putting a huge amount of work into this area.
“The findings also show the scale of the challenge in relation to stop and search, and highlight ongoing regional inconsistencies in how these powers are used.
“One of the key tasks for Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish Government is to put in place robust governance processes, and to ensure that stop and search, as well as other police powers, are deployed fairly and effectively.”
Reacting to the publication of the report, Central Scotland MSP Margaret McCulloch said: “We all accept that the police must search people in the course of their duties to help keep the community safe but most of us would assume there is rigorous regulation and oversight so that stop and search is properly monitored.
“It seems that we are somewhat lacking in Scotland when it comes to regulation and scrutiny and the result is that we have a stop and search rate in Lanarkshire that is even higher than in metropolitan London. It is no secret that Police Scotland takes a firm stand on stop and search and that is perfectly acceptable up to a point. It helps the police get knives and drugs off the streets.
“What is surprising, even shocking, is just how excessive the use of stop and search appears to be.”
Chief Superintendent Barry McEwan, Head of Licensing and Violence Reduction, said: “Police Scotland acknowledges this report and its findings. The use of stop and search is one of several legitimate policing tactics used to tackle the issues local communities tell us matter to them.
“Used in the right place at the right time, it can play a key role in keeping people safe.
“We take cognisance of recent reports and research from a range of organisations, including HMICS, SIPR and the Scottish Government. Police Scotland is taking this information – along with the figures provided in the SCCJR report – to assist with informing our ongoing improvement plan, and ensure the use of stop and search tactics is made best use of the communities of Scotland.”