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28 April 2014
Inquiry into use of stop and search planned

Inquiry into use of stop and search planned

A review of stop and search is to be launched amid claims the tactic is not being deployed ethically by Scotland’s single police force, Holyrood can reveal.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland (HMICS) is preparing to undertake an exercise focused on the recording of searches by police officers.

It follows prolonged controversy over the use of stop and search by Police Scotland and suggestions by staff associations that numbers quoted by the service are inaccurate.

“What we are really going to focus in on is some of the assertions that have been made that officers are making up stop search figures, so we want to go in and test that to see if it is true and, if it is true, to the extent that that takes place,” HM Inspector of Constabulary, Derek Penman, told Holyrood.

“But, again, as well as providing the audit function, we’re also here to look at continuous improvement. So an aspect for me would be what improvements would have to be put into any system to make sure that ethical recording can take place, [and] what checks and balances can be put in in relation to that to make sure the public can have confidence in the figures which are being put forward.”

The work, which is likely to last two to three months, will follow another inquiry by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) due to report this month.

Unlike the SPA, HMICS – which is charged with inspecting, monitoring and evaluating the performance of Police Scotland and the SPA – will carry out individual audits around stop search to check what is being recorded is being done ethically.

“It’s something that we would want to get to the bottom of from an HMIC perspective because, quite frankly, it is not helpful from a public confidence point of view to have some of this played out in the media that officers are making up figures,” adds Penman. “We need to make sure that we understand what the extent if any of that is and more importantly, what improvements we can put in place to stop it happening.”

A piece of work examining recording of crime is also in the pipeline, testing whether crimes are being recorded properly and ethically.

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