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UN Express Concern Over Police Scotland’s Stop-and-Search Powers

Police Scotland’s stop-and-search policy has been criticised in a report by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The consensual stop-and-search policy has been criticised openly by numerous experts, with the UN now expressing their concern. The UN committee, made up of 18 independent international experts, said it is concerned about the "large-scale" use of the powers and called for their repeal. 

UN Reports

The UN findings stated that the law should be scrapped, and called for further training to officers. The UN report read: "The committee is concerned about the use of stop-and-search powers in Scotland, particularly non-statutory searches undertaken on a large scale by Police Scotland that appear to involve, inter alia, the selective application of such measures in a manner which is allegedly unlawful and disproportionate.

"Furthermore,  the Committee observes that no data on the community background of persons stopped and searched under this Act appear to have been gathered so as to ensure that such powers are not used disproportionately and arbitrarily against individuals of a particular ethnicity." 


Stop-and-search has proven to be increasingly ineffective, with more people searched last year with no illegal contraband. Police Scotland assistant chief constable Wayne Mawson said: "Police Scotland recognises it is important to strike a balance between protecting the public and the rights of the individual and we are committed to complying with requirements of the Human Rights Act and our Code of Ethics and Police Values, where stop-and-search must be carried out with integrity, fairness and respect.

"We remain committed to driving forward with our ongoing improvements which will consider and act upon all recommendations from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Scottish Government independent advisory group on stop-and-search which is also considering the future of consensual searching."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Stop-and-search can be a valuable tool in combating crime and has led to the seizures of dangerous weapons, drugs and stolen goods. However, clearly it is important to get the balance right between protecting the public and the rights of the individual."

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If you have been illegally stopped-and-searched of if you require any criminal defence or representation regarding criminal law, contact us today using our online contact form. 

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