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Fake data loophole closed for searches

POLICE Scotland has overhauled its stop-and-search policy in an effort to stop officers from fiddling the figures by entering bogus information into the force's computer system.

The force now requires officers to record the names and addresses of individuals searched. Previously, this did not happen, allowing some officers to make up stop-and-search entries and falsely inflate statistics.

MSPs welcomed the move yesterday, with Graeme Pearson, Scottish Labour's justice spokesman and a former senior police officer, saying it was "more robust".

He said: "There is no point in hiding behind misleading figures that contradict the public's own experiences of the police.

"Only openness and transparency will build confidence in our communities."

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: "This change is long overdue. However, we still don't know the extent of the culture of 'ghost entries' or how it has skewed the already worrying number of voluntary stop and searches in Scotland."

Searches can either be statutory - which require an officer to have reasonable grounds of suspicion - or consensual, which must be based on permission of the person being searched.

In the first nine months after the creation of Police Scotland, more than 500,000 searches were recorded. However, former officers told our sister paper The Sunday Herald the figure was bogus as many of the searches were made up.

It has now emerged Police Scotland last week changed the system, so names, addresses and dates of birth are also included.

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