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Under-regulated and unaccountable? Explaining variation in stop and search rates in Scotland, England and Wales

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Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicing and Society
Early online date29 Mar 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2016


In the last decade, a gulf opened up between England and Wales and Scotland as regard s the use of stop and search. From a position of near parity in 2005/6, by 2012/13 recorded search rates in Scotland exceeded those in England and Wales seven times over. Th is divergence is intriguing on several counts, not least the fact that until the advent of the single police service in April 2013, the use of stop and search in Scotland remained low profile (Scott 2015 , p. 21). The divergence is also fascinating given the similarities between the two jurisdictions, both in terms of recorded crime trends (Bradford 2015) and statutory stop and search powers . There are, of course, differences in police governance and the political narratives around policing in the two jurisdictions ; nonetheless, it is arguable that the demands placed on the police and the legal powers to deal with these are broadly similar .

    Research areas

  • stop and search, legal rules, police discretion, police accountability

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