Stop and Search in Scotland
Dr. Kath Murray from the Scotland team wrote a report for the Scottish Police Authority using data from ISRD3 and the UK national module on stop and search in Glasgow and Edinburgh. To view the publication, see the “United Kingdom” section of the webpage or follow the link in the short presentation of the report below:
Following concerns raised about the practice of stop and search involving young people in Scotland (which had been shown to be highly disproportionate and discriminatory), the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) published a Scrutiny Review on Stop and Search in 2014. Recommendation 11 of the Scrutiny Review stated that “The SPA should commission research, in conjunction with others, to establish the short and long term impact of stop and search on different groups and communities. In particular, this should cover the short and long term impact of stop and search activity on young people” (p26). In line with this recommendation, the SPA commissioned the University of Edinburgh (SCCJR) to produce a report on the prevalence of stop and search amongst young people and their experiences of and attitudes towards the practice.
Dr Kath Murray conducted extensive analysis of the UPYC data which was published on the SPA website in July 2016 (http://www.spa.police.uk/news/352745/). The findings of the report (http://www.spa.police.uk/assets/128635/352708/uypcstopandsearch) suggest that officers generally target the right places, but have more difficulty targeting the right people as more than half of those children who had been searched said that they had not been involved in offending in the past twelve months. This finding is reflected in the low detection rate reported in the survey, which at 13% is considerably lower than the average detection rate across the population as a whole (as measured by Police Scotland data). It is also clear that many children were stopped and searched, without good reason or explanation. In practice, the widespread and frequent use of stop and search appears to have cast an excessively wide net over children in Glasgow and Edinburgh, leading to high levels of unjustified and intrusive police contact. John Foley, Chief Executive of the SPA, stated that “The SPA’s assessment of the research published today concludes that the findings are consistent with public concerns raised three years ago. The research supports the SPA’s decision to conduct its own inquiry into the policy and practice and make recommendations for improvement was the right one… The SPA has shared this research with Police Scotland and we will work with them to ensure that it continues to inform improvements in stop and search going forward.”