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28 October 2014
Large scale study on stop and search planned

Large scale study on stop and search planned

A major new investigation is being launched into the impact of stop and search on relations between police and local communities, in particular younger people.

The Scottish Police Authority has announced its intention to carry out a large-scale research piece in an attempt to establish whether use of the tactic serves to strengthen or undermine citizens’ feelings of safety.

The decision follows a review into Police Scotland’s use of stop and search by the civilian body published in June.

Twelve recommendations were issued by the SPA, including ensuring that the rationale for the search rate on young people is intelligence-led and that particular groups are not being subjected to excessive levels of searching.

“The SPA intends to carry out an overarching research piece, comprising both quantitative and qualitative work over a 2 year period,” says the Authority’s response to the inquiry, which will be discussed at the bi-monthly board meeting in Glasgow this Thursday. 

“The qualitative research exercise, likely to include elements such as focus groups/citizens juries, is intended to augment robust quantitative survey results that will be available and to establish a benchmark of the impact of stop and search on different groups and communities, particularly young people. The SPA has sought expressions of interest for the qualitative research work.

“As stated, a national face-to-face survey will also be carried out to assess the short and long term impact of stop and search on different groups and communities. This work will be carried out in phases, scheduled to begin in November 2014, in order to eventually reach those younger people who are most likely to be impacted by the policing tactic. This initial work is intended for completion by the spring of 2015, with provisional results available before the end of 2014.”

Survey work with break respondents down by socio-demographic characteristics and seek to assess the impact of the tactic on fear of crime, feelings of safety and security as well as attitudes towards the police.

Follow-up work will then be undertaken in early 2017 to establish the impact over time.

In June, Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson announced the single force’s intention to end the practice of consensual stop searches on children under the age of 12.

A pilot scheme has been set up in Fife where every person searched is provided with a leaflet explaining why, while parents of young people searched are sent a letter detailing the reasons within 24 to 48 hours.

Police Scotland conducted almost 75,000 fewer stop searches between April and June of this year compared to the same period in 2013.

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