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First Minister’s refusal to defend stop and search of six year olds shows policy in tatters

June 5, 2014 4:50 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has said the First Minister's refusal to defend the stop and search by Scotland's national police force of six year olds shows a policy in tatters.

During First Minister's Questions today, Alison McInnes pressed the First Minister on findings published last week which showed 893 children aged 7 and under were stopped and searched by Strathclyde police between 2005 and 2010.

The First Minister refused to answer Ms McInnes question on how a child of six can give informed consent to a police search.

Speaking after First Minister's Questions, Ms McInnes said:

"Figures published last week showed that 893 children under the age of Alison McInnesAlison McInnesseven have been stopped and searched by the Police. When I asked the First Minister about how a child so young can give informed consent to a search, the First Minister ran a mile.

"His refusal to even acknowledge this worrying trend demonstrates that the policy he stands by lies in tatters. More recent figures published in the SPA's nine month review showed that in recent months a further 223 children under the age of nine were stopped and search by Scotland's national force. 76 percent of these were "voluntary" stop and searches, which took place with no legal cause for suspicion.

"Instead of dealing with this alarming issue the First Minister sought to hide behind the same old, now discredited, arguments about stop and search reducing crime. Leading children's charities including Barnardo's and Children 1st have said that this practice is unacceptable. The First Minister's refusal to defend this shows that things need to change, otherwise I fear there is a real risk that public faith in our national police force could be diminished."