Sir Stephen House, Chief Constable of Police Scotland, has admitted that police officers have on occasion reported non-existent stop-and-search encounters. According to Sir Stephen, the vast majority of stop-searches are conducted in a proper manner but it would be “naive” to believe that is no falsifying of cases.
Sir Stephen expressed his concerns over allegations by former police officers that a portion of the 500,000-plus stop-searches carried out last year were “ghost” encounters. While admitting there is the odd cop who cuts corners, Sir Stephen said no cause for concern existed in the vast majority of cases.
The stop-and-search tactic was introduced by Sir Stephen during his tenure as head of the Strathclyde police force. It formed part of his strategy to combat violent crime and has been rolled out across the country during the past year.
Calum Steele, CEO of the Scottish Police Federation has been cited by the Scotsman as saying that despite the huge number of stop-searches reported between April and December 2013, the figures do not mean officers have subjected 10% of Scottish citizens to such inspections, as has been suggested. Speaking at a fringe meeting during the Edinburgh-hosted Scottish Conservative conference, Steele pointed out that everyone would be talking about police oppression if that were the case. Some numbers are undoubtedly made up as it is impossible for the police to have searched more than 500,000 Scots, he said.
Statistics show that Police Scotland use stop-searches four times more than the English police force. Approximately 20% of searches are positive, meaning they lead to the seizure of drugs, weapons or alcohol. In 2013, stop-searches resulted in the confiscation of 4,273 weapons.