Stop and Search Statistics Indicate a Worrying Change in Policing on Our Streets

 

Laurie Bidwell

1 August 2014

In the first year of Police Scotland there has been an 82% increase in the number of stop and searches undertaken in Dundee.

Since there has not been any dramatic increase in crime in our city, it is clear that there has been a very marked change in policy and practice of policing on our streets. 

The recently published policing statistics, show that 12,420 stop and searches were undertaken in our city during 2013/14 2. Of these:

2 searches were of children 0-9 years, 

776 searches were of children 10-15 years and 

2046 searches were of young people 16-19 years. 

Police Scotland state that the use of stop and search should always be 'lawful, proportionate, intelligence-led and respectful to the member of the public involved' but this dramatic increase in stop and search, particularly of young people, really concerns me.

I am worried that young people will feel alienated from the Police if they feel unfairly picked on for stop and search.

A recent inquiry by the Scottish Police Authority (the SPA is the sucessor body to the seven Police Boards) reports that, 

'younger age groups are significantly more likely to be searched. However, the detection rate for this population is broadly similar to that of other age groups.' 

This calls into question whether the dramatic increase in the use of stop and searches in Dundee is justified.

There are also gaps in the information recorded by Police officers.

It is currently not possible to know whether some individuals have been stopped and searched more than once in a year. 

According to the SPA report,

'Most officers have not received any training in the use of stop and search since their probationary training.

"While many (in their research inteviews) did not perceive a need for training, we consider that officers would benefit from refresher training and further knowledge and skills development.' 

This is worrying.

Now that more statistics and this SPA review are available, I think we need more local scrutiny of what is happening to policing on our city streets; especially the dramatic increase in 'stop and search'. 

There is more than a suspicion that Chief Constable House is standardising across Scotland forms of Policing he brought with him from the Metropolitan Police in London.

But Dundee is not London and Broughty Ferry is not Brixton. 

I think what we want in Dundee and in The Ferry is Policing that is a genuine and proportionate response to law and order issues on our streets and in our communities; not one that that is imposed from elsewhere.

 

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