News In Focus
"Stop and search" code in force from today
The code of practice on the use of police stop and search powers comes into force today.
Developed with an expert group led by John Scott QC, the code was revised following public consultation and was then unanimously approved by the Scottish Parliament.
It sets out that use of powers must be necessary, proportionate and in accordance with the law and recognises that specific guidance on dealing with children and vulnerable adults is required.
Produced under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016, the code ends the practice of non-statutory, or consensual, stop and search. Police will only be able to carry out stop and search – for items such as dangerous objects, drugs, stolen goods or weapons – where they have reasonable grounds to suspect possession and specific statutory power to do so.
The code will be subject to regular review, with the changes monitored initially in six and 12 months to ensure a smooth transition. Once ihe code of practice has been in force for 12 months, ministers will reassess whether a specific police power is needed to search children for alcohol. Last November they concluded that there was insufficient evidence at that point to justify such a power.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “The ability of police to stop and search individuals can be an intrusion into liberty and privacy, but remains a valuable tool in combating crime.
“I have spent some time with police officers using the new code on our streets and am in no doubt that such searches will be carried out with fairness, integrity and respect.
“The views expressed during the consultation period were absolutely key to shaping the new code. I am very pleased to see it in use and believe that the public can now have even greater confidence in Police Scotland as they carry out their duties.”
Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams added: “Police Scotland welcomes the introduction of the code and has worked closely with the Scottish Government to support its development. It provides clear guidance to all our officers and places the rights of the individuals at the centre of any decision to carry out a search.
“In preparation for the introduction of the code all frontline officers have received training and we will continue to work closely with partners, particularly children and young people, to monitor its impact.”