POLICE INQUIRIES: FINNIE COMMENTS ON CALL-HANDLING, STOP-AND-SEARCH
Commenting on reports into Police Scotland call-handling and the use of stop-and-search, John Finnie, Independent MSP for the Highlands & Islands and justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
“HMICS’s interim report into call-handling acknowledges the frailties of the existing system.
“Whilst welcoming the £1.4 million of additional money to pay for the accelerated recruitment of up to 75 call handling staff, it is our belief that, rather than making the case for Police Scotland to continue the centralisation of call handling, HMICS’s report makes the case for supporting the permanent retention of the Aberdeen and Inverness call handling centres and that’s what we will continue to campaign for.
“The inquiry into the tragic loss of life of Lamara Bell and John Yuill is on-going and the Scottish Green Party awaits the final conclusions of that inquiry. Our thoughts are with their family and friends.”
On stop and search, Mr Finnie said:
“Prior to the advent of Police Scotland, police officers across Scotland learnt about their common law and statutory powers of arrest and discharged their duties within that legal framework, largely without incident. Today’s report by John Scott, an eminent QC, advises the industrial levels of stop and search enacted since the creation of Police Scotland had lacked any legal framework and were of ‘questionable lawfulness and legitimacy’.
“Today the Cabinet Secretary expressed delight that in the most recent count only 39% of searches were so-called ‘consensual searches’. We agree with the First Minister that the limits of police authority are for Parliament to determine. We also recognise the Scottish Government’s intention to legislate to put all future searches on a statutory footing.
"However, we remain concerned that until such time as that legislation is in place ‘consensual’ stop and search will continue as before. We would have preferred immediate moves to a situation where no stop and search takes place without the authority vested by common or statute law.”
On scrutiny, Mr Finnie added:
“We welcome the intention to look at scrutiny of the police service and will participate in the forthcoming ‘Local Scrutiny Summit’. An enhancement of local scrutiny will require the building of trust lost as a result of armed officers being deployed on our streets and the creative, sometime ridiculous, explanations given by Police Scotland for that situation."
On the issue of armed police, John Finnie MSP continues to use appropriate legal channels to secure the release of an initial report withheld by the Scottish Police Authority.