Police Powers to Search Children and Young People for Alcohol

Closed 15 Jul 2016

Opened 21 Mar 2016

Feedback expected 15 Dec 2016

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This consultation asks for views on whether the police should be given the following new search powers:

• The power to search a child or young person under the age of 18 for alcohol, where a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is under the age of 18 and has alcohol in a public place.

• The power to search a person where a constable has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person has alcohol in a public place, and that the person has supplied or intends to supply the alcohol to a person under the age of 18 for consumption in a public place.

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Click here to download a copy of the consultation paper

Why your views matter

In March last year, the Scottish Government’s Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson asked John Scott QC, Solicitor Advocate, to chair an independent Advisory Group on Stop and Search.

The Advisory Group recommended that non-statutory (or consensual) Stop and Search should end when a new Stop and Search Code of Practice comes into force next year. From that point on the police will be able to search a person only where they have a specific legal power to do so. In their report, the Advisory Group highlighted a potential legislative gap once consensual search ends, as the police do not currently have a specific legal power to search children and young people for alcohol. However, the Group’s members were unable to reach a concluded view on whether a new search power was desirable or necessary. They therefore recommended that the Scottish Government should carry out this public consultation.

This is a complex issue and it is vitally important that we get the balance right. We must ensure that the police have the powers that they need to safeguard and protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, while at the same time we must ensure that we are protecting the rights of the individual. The questions in this consultation paper are deliberately framed in a way that allows for open discussion of these issues and how they are best addressed. The Government is not, at this stage, taking a position on whether the powers are needed and will only make a decision on this once it has considered all of the responses to the consultation.

We will be particularly keen to hear the views of children and young people.

What happens next

Following this consultation, we will analyse responses to the consultation and information gathered from any workshops, group discussions and meetings carried out during the consultation period. In doing this we will work with the independent Stop and Search Advisory Group and other key stakeholders.

The Scottish Government will then decide whether or not to lay regulations before the Scottish Parliament that would give police new powers to search people in relation to children and young people under 18 and alcohol. If the Scottish Government does decide to lay regulations, it must also provide a summary of the responses to this consultation to the Parliament, meaning that the Parliament will be able to take that into account in its decision making. The Scottish Parliament must then vote on whether to approve any regulations before they could come into effect


  • Children and Families
  • Law and Order
  • Public Safety and Emergencies