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Massive fall in number of controversial stop and search operations after admission figures were manipulated

STOP and search procedures have fallen by a massive 40% after reforms were brought in to stop police officers recording bogus entries.

In Glasgow, the number of searches carried out between April and June this year fell by 28,000, a near 50% drop.

Liberal Democrat MP Alison McInnes, below, said the decrease was due to the scrutiny heaped on the controversial policy.

Stop and search, a signature policy of Police Scotland Chief Constable Stephen House, is aimed at catching criminals with drugs, knives and other illegal items.

However, the vast number of recorded searches has generated public concern in recent months.

In the first nine months of Police Scotland, more than half a million searches were recorded as having been carried out.

The rate was nine times higher than in the area covered by the New York Police Department.

However, earlier this year former officers told the Sunday Herald the total figure was inflated due to police officers making up searches.

They said officers entered "ghost" entries because of pressure exerted by their chiefs to keep the figures high. This was easy to pull off as the digital form for entering details of searches did not include the name or addresses of the person searched.

House conceded that "some" recorded searches were "made up" by officers. Following the allegations, the single force changed its procedures on May 1 so these personal details were recorded.

The latest figures, covering April to June, reveal that, in total, 113,645 searches were carried out in this three-month period, compared to 187,831 between April to June last year. This amounts to a fall of 39.5%. In Glasgow, the figure fell by 28,564 to 35,099, or 44.9%

Aberdeen witnessed a 43.6% drop and East Ayrshire recorded a 60.1% fall, while the decrease in Edinburgh was 35.8%. The biggest drops were 65.1% in Highland and 66.6% in East Dunbartonshire.

The national fall comes after other controversies with the policy, such as young children being searched. Police Scotland responded to concerns about children being searched by banning all "voluntary" searches on under 12s. A pilot project in Fife will also notify the parents of all children who are searched on a statutory basis.

McInnes said: "There can be little doubt that sustained campaigning has forced Police Scotland to think twice over the excessive use of voluntary stop and search.

"Evidence-led, targeted stop and searches are the most effective way to tackle crime while respecting the civil liberties of the majority of people who respect the law of the land."

Graeme Pearson, Scottish Labour's justice spokesman and former director-general of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, said: "We will need a longer-term view to work out the effects of this change, but the old recording system for stop and search was poorly thought out and badly implemented."

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "The drop in the number of stop searches and an increase in positive results in the first three months of 2014-15 compared to last year shows that, with the use of intelligence and analysis, it is being targeted in the right place at the right time at the right people."

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Local government

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