Stop and search strategy reducing violent crime in Scotland

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Police OfficerPolice in Scotland claim stop and search policies are combating violent crime, but insist there are no set targets in place for officers.

In the first three months since the establishment of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) – the new national police force – officers carried out a total of 186,463 stop and searches.

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick told this week’s SPA board meeting in Ayr there were no set targets for stop and searches and they “absolutely do not want those kind of targets set at any level”.

She said: “It’s not a set of officers who jump out of a van and do stop and searches and then go away again.

“It is local officers, talking to people, being present in their communities on their streets, observing behaviour, being aware of the intelligence and engaging people in interactions which lead to searches.”

DCC Fitzpatrick added: “We are taking knives and weapons and drugs and alcohol in the possession of children off the streets.”

The creation of the SPA has seen an intelligence-led stop and search policy used for six years by Strathclyde Police now rolled out nationwide.

A paper presented to the SPA meeting showed between 2007/08 and 2012/13 Strathclyde Police recorded a 49.2 per cent fall in serious violent crimes – significantly larger than any other Scottish police force.

Strathclyde Police recorded its highest ever number of stop and searches in 2012/13, and, of 612,100, some 84,081 (13.7 per cent) resulted in a positive outcome.

Figures show that of 8,261 stop and searches carried out in Edinburgh between 1 April and 30 June 2013, one in five (20.9 per cent) were positive and led to a confiscation of unlawful items.

Weapons were seized in 1,666 searches, drugs confiscated in 3,926 and alcohol taken off the streets in 877 searches.

This figure is more than double that of England and Wales, where it is estimated that 9 per cent of stop and searches have a positive success rate.

The paper stated: “Although it is early yet to evaluate fully the impact of the Police Scotland approach to stop and search in the capital city, the first three months show reductions in violent crime which mirror the effect seen in the Strathclyde legacy force area.

“Stop and search is an important police power which in Scotland has been at the heart of a successful campaign to reduce violence since 2007 in the west of the country, and since 1 April 2013 across Scotland.

“Analysis of crime statistics evidences that intelligence-led and proportionate use of stop and search has a positive impact by reducing crime, particularly serious violence in public places.”

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