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Justice Secretary must put a stop to uncontrolled use of stop and search

April 30, 2014 4:12 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrats have called on the Justice Secretary KennyAlison McInnesAlison McInnes MacAskill to clamp down on the unregulated and uncontrolled use of stop and search by Police Scotland.

The call follows an announcement by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May that she is to further tighten powers on stop and search in England and Wales, with new guidelines requiring police officers to sign up to a more rigorous code of conduct on the use of the tactic.

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has responded that it is a far cry from the stance of the Scottish Government. Scottish Liberal Democrats have previously called on the Scottish Government to outlaw so-called voluntary stop and searches and for every search to be properly recorded, steps that have already been taken in England and Wales.

Commenting on today's announcement, Ms McInnes said:

"The SNP justice secretary's carte blanche to Police Scotland is a far cry from the measured and reasonable approach from the UK Government. While the UK Government is tightening up the rules on the use of the stop and search tactic, Mr MacAskill says it is an operational matter for the police to deal with. He is blithely unconcerned that Scotland lacks even basic rules on how stop and search should be deployed here.

"The Scottish public are already many times more likely to be stopped than people in England and Wales. However, three quarters of these searches have very little legal basis, are not based on any intelligence or suspicion, and are not properly recorded. This renders the system open to all manner of abuse and risks alienating those who are regularly targeted.

"This announcement is therefore a further reminder that the Scottish Government is failing to provide leadership on this matter, with the reasoned and principled concerns of human rights organisations and charities falling upon deaf ears.

"While Theresa May is seeking to put a stop to any inappropriate and insensitive searches, Kenny MacAskill is egging Police Scotland on."