SUSPECTS apprehended for crimes will be read their rights for the first time in Scotland under sweeping new powers being handed to police officers.

New laws come into effect later this month that will change the formal procedures officers must follow while detaining a suspect.

For the first time, suspects will be given a warning while being detained that emphasises their so-called 'Miranda rights' – informing them of their right to remain silent and under what charge they are being arrested.

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The powers will come into effect on January 25.

Agenda: This will be a crunch year for policing in Scotland

But a human rights lawyer has raised concerns that the “theatrical” reading of suspects' rights could fuel to a rise in unlawful arrest claims if police fail to carry out the act at the earliest opportunity.

Dr Nick McKerrell, lecturer in Law and Civil Liberties at Glasgow Caledonian University said: “The police have real powers, more than any other Scottish institution and how they are held to account in their use of these powers really matters.

“For the first time in Scottish history it will be possible to be 'read your rights' when arrested by an officer. Although for students of American cop shows this does not include a right to a phone call this side of the Atlantic.

“But while this may be quite theatrical the law does not make clear when these rights should be read other than at the earliest possible point after detention.

“I think a by-product of this will be a rise in unlawful arrest claims as suspects see a chance to exploit what could be reasonable deemed the earliest possible point.”

Agenda: This will be a crunch year for policing in Scotland

The new law also limits stop and search powers to occasions where police officers have “reasonable grounds” to do so.

Police officers are allowed to initiate searches for suspected drug possession, stolen items or weapons. But so-called “consensual searches” –where people are searched without any legal basis – have proven controversial in Scotland.

Under the new rules, an officer must have a “reasonable suspicion” based on “facts, information and/or intelligence” that the person being searched is likely to be carrying an illegal item.

It will rely on existing legislation such as the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Terrorism Act 2000.

But officers will be restricted from instigating searches if suspicions are raised based on appearance – for example age, race or gender – or because of previous convictions.

Research published by Edinburgh University in 2014 showed police in Scotland were far more likely to carry out stop and searches than their colleagues in England and Wales.

Agenda: This will be a crunch year for policing in Scotland

But the number of stop-and-searches has fallen dramatically since then, with 888 consensual searches and 20,665 statutory searches conducted between April 1 and September 30, 2016.

This compared with 450,173 consensual searches and 192,470 statutory searches in 2013/14.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The introduction of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 represents one of the most significant changes to police procedures in Scotland for at least a generation. “The new measures will modernise arrest, custody and questioning procedures, improve access to legal advice for people who are taken into custody and improve protections for children and young people.”