Changing Stop and Search in Scotland

Megan O'Neill (Lead / Corresponding author), Elizabeth Aston

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Compared to other areas in the UK, stop and search in Scotland was on a disproportionately large scale prior to 2015 and targeted children and young people. Scottish police officers conducted more non-statutory searches than statutory, putting into question the legitimacy of this tactic. In response to external pressures, a revised approach to stop and search was developed and piloted in the Fife Division of Police Scotland from June 2014 to January 2015. Our evaluation of this pilot found that while some elements were an improvement on current practice, the use of non-statutory searches and disproportionate searches of children continued. Since our evaluation, practice in stop and search in Scotland has undergone dramatic change. This paper will discuss the contribution of the Fife Pilot and our evaluation to changes to stop and search in Scotland. It will consider the relevance of procedural justice to developments in this area of service delivery, which will be of benefit to practitioners and policy makers internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-154
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Policing Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2018


  • Stop and search
  • Police Scotland
  • Procedural justice

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