Police used stop and search powers to investigate whether a seven year old girl was in possession of drugs in one of more than 3,000 searches involving children over a 14-month period.

Officers discovered the Clackmannanshire schoolgirl had nothing on her after using controversial laws to search her under the misue of drugs act in June 2019, according to a new report.

Figures obtained by BBC Scotland also uncovered hundreds of searches carried out on youngsters in North Lanarkshire proved to be negative, while more than two thirds of those undertaken revealed no wrongdoing.

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It comes over two years after a rewritten code of practice on stop and search came into force following concerns over the people being targeted by the controversial powers.

The data - revealed under freedom of information legislation - found that 3,172 searches were carried out on children aged 0-15 between April 2018 and June 2019 - around six per cent of the overall number undertaken in the same period.

Fiona Dyer, of the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice at the University of Strathclyde, told the BBC she feared youngsters could be "exploited, coerced or threatened to act criminally" by people they trust.

She said: "When we hear of primary school-aged children as young as seven involved in what could be classed as serious offending, it is clear that this is a child protection matter and should be responded to as such."

"These children are victims of other people's actions and there is nothing to be gained by dealing with them in a criminal way."

She added: "In recognition of this, the Scottish government are including child criminal exploitation in their new child protection guidelines, as they are aware this is placing some children at risk and having detrimental impacts on their lives that they need protected from."

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Regulations passed in May 2017 state officer may only use the powers for a good reason and where "necessary and proportionate".

Superintendent Ian Thomson, of Police Scotland, said the stop and search code of practice had a dedicated section for children which provided guidance for officers and maintained all of the searches undertaken were within guidelines.

He added: "All searches carried out are subject to governance and review in line with scrutiny arrangements to confirm they comply with the code of practice being lawful, necessary and proportionate."