The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has come forward with a list of recommendations regarding stop and search tactics. Their aim is to improve targeting, enhance effectiveness and increase transparency. As the review results have shown, stop and search plays an important part in cracking down on violence and anti-social behaviour, but there are several areas in need of improvement, the SPA said.
One of the key recommendations calls for better data collection and analysis. This will allow Police Scotland to strengthen the relationship between intelligence, the threat of crime and stop and search. The SPA report also recommends increasing transparency and boosting public confidence through greater public disclosure of stop and search data. In addition, informed consent should become the cornerstone of non-statutory stop and search, with members of the public made well aware of their rights, such as being able to decline a search.
According to the SPA, Scottish police officers spend around 250,000 hours annually on stop and search activities. However, the objectives of such activities are not always clear for police officers or communities, for example whether it is intended to stop crime or reduce it.
Stop and search is an effective tool that enables Police Scotland to tackle violence and anti-social behaviour, said SPA member Brian Barbour, chair of the review task group. Nevertheless, there are areas that need further clarification and the report has sought to address them. Underpinning all 12 recommendations is the belief that knowledge and awareness should improve drastically, both within the police force and society. If these recommendations are put into practice, stop and search will benefit in terms of policy, practice and results, Barbour stated.