Stop and search code published

Written by Tom Freeman on 12 January 2017 in News

Police will only be able to stop and search people if "necessary and appropriate", according to a new code to be considered by MSPs

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New rules to govern the use of controversial stop and search techniques by police are to be considered by the Scottish Parliament.

Police are allowed to search people for illegal materials such as drugs or weapons, but there was criticism the practice had become too widespread, with accusations some people are being searched without legal basis.

The move follows advice from the Scottish Human Rights Commission in 2015 that Scotland scrap 'consensual' stop and search, where the practice happens on a non-statutory basis. 


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If approved by MSPs, the new code will end consensual searches from May.

The code has been drafted by an advisory group of experts led by John Scott QC. He said it completes the process of making searches statutory.

“The code has been substantially revised thanks to responses in the formal consultation process and the contribution of others in the last few months – leading academics; relevant organisations dealing with children, young people and those with specific vulnerabilities; several government departments; and officers of the National Stop and Search Unit," he said.

“The code will be subject to regular review, with the changes monitored initially in six and 12 months to ensure a smooth transition. The government is to be commended for addressing such a complex area with the urgency it required.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said people's views had helped form the code.

“Stop and search is a valuable tool in combating crime, but we must ensure a balance between protecting the public and recognising the rights of individuals. This new code is about finding that balance and maintaining the trust between the police and the public," he said.

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