HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland’s Audit and Assurance Review of Stop and Search: Phase 2 report is published today and acknowledges the substantial improvements Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority have made with stop and search across Scotland.
This review followed up on the recommendations made within our Phase 1 report, which was published in March 2015 and also includes an independent audit of stop and search data.
All 23 recommendations made in our Phase 1 report have now been completed.
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Derek Penman said: “In our Phase 1 report we recommended a move towards legislative stop and search along with improvements in recording, training, supervision and audit which would give communities across Scotland more confidence in the use of this important operational policing tactic.”
“Since our Phase 1 report was published, Police Scotland has delivered substantial improvements in the way it conducts, records and monitors all of its stop and search activity. The number of recorded stop searches by police officers has decreased significantly, with the majority now using legislative powers. Seizures of items, including alcohol are recorded separately and provides more accurate information on stop and search activity. There is also far greater transparency through the publication of stop and search data on the Police Scotland website, which creates new opportunities for external scrutiny.”
“Strong working relationships have been developed with key organisations representing children and young people and I welcome that the views and opinions of young people have helped shape Police Scotland’s policy and procedure around stop and search. I also welcome the fact that Police Scotland and the SPA have commissioned research and worked with academics to identify good practice and inform the use of stop and search in a local context.”
Significant national developments have been driven by the Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search. This includes new legislation and the development of a Code of Practice for stop and search which, subject to parliamentary approval, will come into effect later this year and bring consensual stop and search to an end.
Police Scotland has developed a national training programme, which is being rolled out across Scotland to prepare officers for the implementation of the new Code. This includes clear principles around when police officers can use stop and search powers, along with helpful guidance on the stop and search of children and vulnerable adults.
In preparation for the new code, Police Scotland has developed briefing packages for its senior managers and is actively working with local authority scrutiny and engagement bodies. HMICS is encouraged by these developments and the commitment from Police Scotland to support the effective local scrutiny of stop and search.
Police Scotland has issued clear guidance to its officers on what information requires to be recorded, and has introduced a greatly enhanced national stop and search database.
An effective internal audit regime is now in place to provide assurance over data accuracy. The audit results are reported to the Scottish Police Authority and HMICS acknowledges that ongoing oversight of stop and search will be provided through the Authority’s new Policing Committee.
Our review included an independent audit of a sample of stop search and seizure records held within the national stop and search database. This confirmed that Police Scotland had correctly assessed 97% of them.
As a consequence of the substantial improvements made by Police Scotland and the results of independent audit, HMICS now has confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the stop and search data held by Police Scotland.