Figures revealing up to 2,000% increases in stop-and-search procedures by police in Angus have been labelled a “concern”.
The statistics from recently released data about the Police Scotland use of stop and search in 2012-13 and 2013-14 shows the total number of Angus incidents rose by 288% from 955 to 3,710.
The most marked Angus increase over that period saw the number of under 15-year-old females who were searched increase by 2,011% from nine to 190, while the number of males under that age who were stopped increased by 588%.
Tory North East MSP Alex Johnstone said: “People across Angus will understandably be concerned at the sharp rise in stop-and-search incidents, especially among young people.
“For the number of searches to jump by as much as 2,000% in some cases is quite staggering.
“My concern is that Police Scotland are adopting an over-the-top approach and arbitrarily using this tool without proper consideration.
“Given that the Scottish Police Authority have questioned the effectiveness of stop and search, it would be better if the police reassessed their use of it.
“The last thing we need to see is a one-size-fits-all approach, resulting in Strathclyde-style policing being rolled out across Angus.
“I welcome recent developments that will see an end to stop and searches of under-12s and I hope this will signal the start of a more responsible approach by Police Scotland.”
Police Scotland defended the use of “focused and ethical stop and searches to reduce violence and prevent offending in public places”.
In response to concerns raised in various quarters over sharp increases in statistics, they said the use of targeted and intelligence-led stop and search is an effective and legal tactic.
“The impact and success of stop and search is founded on its deployment in the right places at the right time, in tackling criminality and disorder in public places,” said Police Scotland.