Improving Stop and Search

Stop and search is a valuable policing tactic which helps prevent, investigate and detect crime. Police Scotland carries out stop and search in an open and transparent way to ensure its appropriate use and help nurture public trust and confidence.

The journey so far:

Police Scotland implemented a Stop and Search Improvement Plan in June 2015. This followed an extensive review by Police Scotland and independent reviews by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) and an Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search.  

Consequently a Code of Practice on the use of Stop and Search came into effect on 11 May 2017 and the use of non-statutory (consensual) search ceased.

The Code of Practice on the use of Stop and Search puts individuals’ rights at the centre of any decision to stop and search a person and provides officers, including supervisors and senior managers with guidance on conducting, recording and monitoring the use of stop and search.   The purpose of the code is to: 

  • Set out the principles under which stop and search is undertaken 
  • ensure consistency in the application of stop and search
  • explain why, when and how stop and search is used
  • set the standard to which constables can be scrutinised and evaluated.

Stop and Search Improvement Plans have driven changes in the use of stop and search and laid the foundations for the introduction of the Code of Practice.

So far we have:

  • Improved guidance, briefing and training available to frontline officers
  • introduced new recording practices to ensure officers are clear about the information that should be recorded and how it should be recorded
  • implemented an improved version of the National Stop and Search Database
  • ceased the use of consensual searching. 
  • introduced a review process to ensure the accuracy of the records submitted and to identify any future areas of improvement.  

Code of Practice Review

The Independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search, supported by Police Scotland, will review the Code of Practice throughout its first year to identify any areas for improvement and inform any future amendments to the Code or associated legislation.  

The review will include an analysis of available stop and search data and engagement with stakeholders including children and young people and frontline officers using stop and search.  The Advisory Group will provide an interim update on the progress of the Review after six months and present their findings at 12 months to the Scottish Government.   

Related documents:

Stop and Search Improvement Plan 2016/2017 (Phase III)

Stop and Search Improvement Plan 2015/16 (Interim Consensual Phase II) - October 2015

Stop and Search Improvement Plan 2015/16 (Testing Phase I)

Report of the Advisory Group on Stop and Search

Scottish Police Authority: Scrutiny review - Police Scotland's Stop and Search and Practice - Final report and Recommendations - May 2014

HM INSPECTORATE OF CONSTABULARY IN SCOTLAND Audit and Assurance Review of Stop and Search: Phase 1, March 2015

HMICS Audit and Assurance Review of Stop and Search: Phase 2

The Fife Division (Police Scotland) Stop and Search Pilot Evaluation

Stop and Search Officer Confidence 

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Related Documents

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