The independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search published its report on Thursday 3rd September 2015 which recommended the end to the practice of consensual search in Scotland.
John Scott QC wrote:
“On the Recommendation regarding the future of non-statutory stop and search, the Advisory Group did not reach a unanimous position. To a significant extent our differences should be seen, however, as different ways of giving emphasis to a shared view – that nonstatutory stop and search, as it has been operated, should end. The majority thinks it should end completely and without qualification. The minority thinks that, subject to a rigorous Code of Practice and there being a presumption against its use, non-statutory stop and search should remain available meantime, pending consideration of data on the overall practice of stop and search that were not previously available.”
“While it would have been possible simply to outline the different views on our Terms of Reference and express them as, in effect, multiple choice recommendations, it was my view, as Chair, that our remit required something more of us. Through the many discussions, debates, presentations, submissions, reports and other evidence, I considered that I could discern a clear Recommendation concerning non-statutory stop and search. A majority of colleagues on the Group agreed with me.”
“In light of the history of the tactic, issues over its legitimacy and emerging challenges to its lawfulness and compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), I considered that, rather than it being a case of having a presumption in favour of retention, the case for retention would have to be made with the clearest of evidence. The tactic has been utilised for a sufficiently long period of time to allow us to have found the best arguments in its favour, even if the recording of data has been incomplete and inconsistent. I believe that we heard the strongest arguments in favour of retention, as well as some unpersuasive ones. We also heard the strongest arguments against retention, as well as some weaker ones. These arguments have all been explained, explored and debated in our many meetings.”