Police Scotland has been taking innocent people’s telephone numbers as part of changes to controversial stop and search practices.
A pilot scheme in Fife, set up to reform many of the perceived flaws in the policy, ended up being rolled out nationwide.
In a memo issued last year, officers were authorised to record telephone numbers in their national search database even if no criminality was uncovered although no one is obliged to give their details.
A Police Scotland spokesman said the policy was “intended” to only be rolled out in Fife.
They added: “Numbers may have been recorded in other divisions if these were provided voluntarily by individuals stop searched.
“As the memo states, the facility was set up on the National Stop Search IT application to support the ‘P’ Division Stop and Search pilot, where numbers were provided voluntarily to check its effectiveness, improve transparency and seek feedback, but the recording of numbers was not mandatory.”
Until July last year, names and addresses were recorded, and whether a search found items such as drugs and blades, but the types of information officers can now record has been widened.
The “consensual” stop and search policy, which has resulted in elderly citizens and babies frisked without evidence of any criminality, has come under fire and is expected to be scrapped after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attacked it.
Around three quarters of all searches in Scotland were “consensual”, meaning they are neither rooted in law nor based on reasonable suspicion.
Scottish Lib Dem justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said: “Police Scotland needs to explain to what extent it has been recording the telephone numbers of those it has stopped and searched.
“Have the telephone numbers collected outwith Fife been used for any purpose?
“Does the national force intend for the collection of phone numbers to become standard practice or will this option be scrapped once the Fife pilot has concluded?”
Independent MSP and former police officer John Finnie said: “Unless the law has changed, and I am not aware it has, there’s no obligation to give the police details of your phone.
“It is time for the law enforcers to cease being creative with civil liberties and restrict their stop and search practices to the tried, tested and lawful ones in operation prior to the creation of target-fixated Police Scotland.
“The Parliament’s Police Committee will shortly revisit the stop and search issue and this further intrusion into a citizens’ privacy will certainly feature.”