Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Frisking a flawed policy

NICOLA Sturgeon's remarks in Parliament last week have confirmed that stop and search - the signature policy of Police Scotland chief constable Stephen House - is in crisis.

The controversial practice of suspicionless searches - which have no legal basis - is for the chop, while assistant chief Wayne Mawson has been recalled to Holyrood over his claim that non-statutory searches for under 12s were "indefensible".

MSPs were angered to learn that this "indefensible" practice has continued.

Scotland's frisk rate is also far higher than in London and nine times the proportionate rate compared to the New York Police Department.

I've charted the collapse of this policy in the Sunday Herald since February last year.

Here is a beginners' guide to a policing initiative that has spiralled out of control.

1.      23rd February, 2014. Police have been making up stop searches, claim officers.

2.     9th March, 2014. Leaked briefing: cops told to boost successful stop and searches.

 3.       23rd March, 2014. Police chief admits to fake stop and search figures.

4.       30th March, 204. Police prevent scrutiny of stop and search data.

5.       14th April, 2014. Cops challenge single force over ‘bogus’ stop and searches.

6.       April 20th, 2014. Single force admits there is no definition of a successful stop and search.

7.       3rd May, 2014. Single force overhauls recording system for stop searches.

8.       1st June, 2014. Kids as young as six were stop searched by Stephen House’s old force.

9.       5th July, 2014. Some cops make up nearly 90% of their stop searches, review hears.  bully-us-to-boost-stop-and-search-figures.24682653

10.   21st June, 2014. Weapons discoveries from stop search policy exaggerated by 40%.

11.   20th July, 2014. Scotland’s stop and search rate is 9 times higher than in NYPD

12. 28th June, 2014. Cops will be “firmly dealt with” if they don’t increase stop and searches.

13.   August 16th, 2014. Stop searches fall by 40% after ‘bogus’ frisk scandal exposed

14.   30th August, 2014. Police Scotland spent £10m on ‘unlawful’ stop searches

15.   27th September, 2014. Watchdog blocked critics from giving evidence to frisk review.
16.   2nd November, 2014. Stop and search has failure rate of 84%.

17.   26th November, 2014. Frisk levels fall by 50% after scrutiny of search policy.
18.   30th November, 2014. Drug detections from stop searches include ‘legal highs’.

19.   1st February, 2015. Scotland’s human rights tsar: end non-statutory stop and search.

20.   8th February, 2015. Bid to end non-statutory frisks to be made within days.

21. 22nd February 2015: Revealed, Police Scotland and Scottish Government tried to hamper research into stop-and-search 

22. 22nd March, 2015: Stop and search: now Police Scotland is collecting your phone numbers

23. 17th May 2015: Revealed: how Police Scotland tried to undermine criticism of stop and search

24. 21st June, 2015: Nearly one in every five Glaswegians subjected to stop and search

25. 26th July, 2015. World's End case used to defend stop and search policy

26. 9th August, 2015: Watchdog watered down stop and search report after House intervention