In response to research, Police Scotland has redesigned its database to improve recording and transparency, and now publishes its records publicly, has retrained every police officer on their use of stop and search, and has ended potentially harmful and unjust practices.
Recorded searches in Scotland increased dramatically from 2005/2006 to 2012/2013 to a rate about four times that of England and Wales. Police Scotland came under intense political and media scrutiny to change its practice.
Police Scotland selected the Fife area of Scotland with 828 locally deployed officers, as the site for a stop and search pilot to test new techniques, an enhanced database, enhanced crime analysis and more complex community engagement practices.
The research recommended an end to non-statutory searches. The Scottish Government responded by appointing an Independent Advisory Group (IAG). The IAG recommended the development of a code of practice and the complete abolishment of non-statutory stop and search. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 was amended accordingly.
Police Scotland has redesigned the stop and search database, and it is now publicly accessible. In addition, Police Scotland has also developed a data system to assist area commanders when deciding where to deploy officers based on trends in crime and previous searches.
All existing officers up to the rank of Inspector, a total of 15,617, have now been retrained via new face-to-face training. The Fife Pilot evaluation’s findings informed the design of the new stop and search training.
Institution: University of Dundee
Researcher: Dr Megan O'Neill