Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes has said her party will liberate Police Scotland from top-down government control as she warns of the dangers of a continued target for extra officer numbers.
Figures published today show that the SNP government has met the 1,000 extra police officer target it set in 2007. But Mrs McInnes has consistently raised concerns that the target disguises the situation in the ground, hiding an imbalance between those officers working in communities and those who are having to cover civilian shifts.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes today emphasised the importance of having strong, liberal voices at Holyrood that will question the SNP's cavalier approach to stop and search and police reform.
Mrs McInnes' remarks come as a　new study by Kath Murray of the University of Edinburgh's school of law, published in the British Journal of Criminology, says the use of controversial, so-called consensual stop and search practices was allowed to grow because of a lack of political and media scrutiny.
Commenting on the study, Mrs McInnes said: "For two years SNP ministers and backbenchers showed no interest in ending industrial-scale stop and search. They were comfortable with young children being searched on a so-called consensual basis.
"They ignored countless warnings from experts that the hundreds of thousands of searches being conducted by Police Scotland were discriminatory and illegal under human rights law.
"Scottish Liberal Democrats in the last parliament succeeded, against all odds, in changing the law to ban these random, intrusive and unjustified searches.
"But there is more work to be done because the SNP are already looking at introducing new search powers for activities that aren't illegal. That is a dangerous precedent to set and it could see industrial stop and search reintroduced through the backdoor.
"The SNP's cavalier approach to stop and search and police reform shows the importance of having strong liberal voices in the new parliament. Scotland can't wait on the SNP to restore civil liberties and put democracy back into the police."
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes has warned of the risks of a 'Big Brother' database impacting on the privacy of innocent motorists as she revealed Police Scotland has built up a store of over 850 million number plate records.
Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Liberal Democrats have revealed that 852,507,524 number plate records logged by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras across the country are held in a Police Scotland database, with data available as far back as 2009. The national force is now capturing details of over 200 million journeys each year.
The bill addresses the need to tackle the damage that is done by abusive behaviour and sexual harm. The Government has acknowledged that the bill deals with only part of a wider problem, and I hope that Parliament will return as soon as possible to the issue of creating a specific offence of domestic abuse. We need legislation that can properly capture the complex web of coercive behaviour that is used to abuse victims.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP today criticised SNP ministers for not standing up for Scottish children, highlighting their failure to raise the age of criminal responsibility, provide equal protection against assault and ensure timely access to mental health treatment.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP today said that every police search carried out in Scotland must be conducted in accordance with human rights, as she warned so-called consensual searches cannot be allowed to return by the backdoor.
Today the Scottish Government launched a consultation on search practices, including a new code of practice for stop and search and the use of the searches of children.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes MSP today said her party's calls to raise the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland to 12 have today been vindicated by an independent report to government recommending the same rise.
The final report by the Scottish Government's Advisory Group on the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility published today says ministers should take early action to raise the age of criminal responsibility from eight to 12.
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes today slammed the SNP government for failing to explain what independent analysis it has taken on the impact of scrapping air passenger duty (APD), as ministers continue to rely on reports and submissions from members of the aviation industry to drive forward policy.
North East Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes today praised an Aberdeen school for an exceptional report following a visit by inspectors.
Mrs McInnes said: "The reports on Middleton School and nursery class from Education Scotland and Care Scotland inspection are remarkable.
"To achieve 11 'excellent' ratings is outstanding. The other one category was rated 'very good'. Furthermore there are no recommendations. I do not recall seeing that before. I was so impressed with the report that I could not let it pass without writing to the head teacher, Mrs Jenny Watson, to pass on my congratulations. They should rightly be very proud of the outcome. As must the parents."
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes MSP today welcomed a fall in Scottish crime rates but warned that if the centralisation of Police Scotland is not reversed, the public's confidence in the national force could continue to drop.
The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey published today includes figures on confidence in policing for the first time since Police Scotland was established.