Accessibility Options Printer friendly Email us Contact us

Stop and Search Children Under 12 Oral Question, 5/02/15 [S]

During First Ministers Question Time on 5 February 2015 Ruth Davidson (Con) asked the First Minister that this week, we found out that the police in Scotland have stopped and searched hundreds of children under the age of 12. Of our youngest children, aged nine and under, 159 were stopped. In London, which has millions more people and higher crime, the number was just 19. Everyone in the chamber has nieces, nephews, children or grandchildren. How does the First Minister feel about children as young as five being stopped by the police? Primary school children are being approached by uniformed officers asking to search them, and the children do know whether they are allowed to say no. How does she feel about that?

The First Minister replied, it is clear that stop and search of children is an issue about which many people will have concerns. When the police search children, it is generally to ensure that they are safe; we understand that a proportion of the searches are because drugs or weapons may have been concealed by others on very young children. 

The number of children who are being stopped and searched has reduced dramatically. The Scottish Police Authority has asked Police Scotland to provide a full explanation of the figures that we have seen this week, and the matter will be discussed at the next public board meeting of the Scottish Police Authority.

I am grateful to Ruth Davidson for raising what I think is an important issue. I have spoken to the chief constable about stop and search and I can advise Parliament that following a six-month pilot in Fife, he is now considering whether the practice of non-statutory or consensual stop and search should be completely ended. I welcome that.

For the full answer to this and any subsidiary questions see the Scottish Parliament Official Report 5 February 2015 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Official Report 5 February 2015