Time For A Review of Police Scotland Oversight

5 Feb 2015

The Scottish Conservatives are calling for a full review of the oversight of Police Scotland.

It follows revelations this week that hundreds of children are being stop and searched – despite one senior police chief telling MSPs last year that the practice was “indefensible”.

It emerged earlier this week that, after that claim, a further 356 children were searched by police in Scotland.

The figures also reveal that while 159 children under the age of 9 were stopped and searched in Scotland in 2014, the number in London – with millions more people and higher crime – was just 19.

Challenged by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson today, Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Police Authority had now asked for a full explanation.

However, the Scottish Conservatives believe that a wholesale review of the oversight of Police Scotland is now required if confidence is to be restored to the system.

The latest revelations come after Police Scotland rolled out a plan last year to allow firearms officers to carry handguns with them at all times – again without the public’s knowledge.

Ruth Davidson says today: “The police do a tough job and it’s my instinct always to back them in their job, but the police need to have the consent of the community to carry out the work that they do.”

“I welcome the fact that the First Minister has acted to look at what is going on here but the question is why was this allowed to happen in the first place?”

“It is outrageous that a senior police officer should tell MSPs that an ‘indefensible” practice would stop, and then carry on as before.”

“A pattern is emerging of national police force chiefs seemingly acting as they please. First people see armed police officers carrying weapons around the streets and in shopping malls. Then, despite the police having described it as “indefensible”, we discover that they are still ordering ordinary officers to search primary school children as before.”

“It’s not good enough for the Scottish Police Authority to act after the event. We were told when Police Scotland was set up that the SPA would hold it to account. Well, the evidence suggests that’s not happening.”

“If the new Police Scotland service is going to earn people’s trust we need a fundamental review of the way the oversight systems are working.”

Notes to Editors:

BBC Scotland reported the continuing use of stop and search on children earlier this week.