Estelle Clayton

PhD student

University of Dundee


Working Title of PhD: Stop and Search in Scotland: An analysis of police practice and culture in a time of change

Year commenced PhD study: 2016

Institution/Organisation: University of Dundee

Funding Source: ESRC Collaborative Studentship

Full or part-time: Full-time

PhD Supervisors: Dr Megan O’Neill (University of Dundee) Dr Anna Souhami (University of Edinburgh)

The aim of this research is to study, through in-depth quantitative and qualitative research, the climate, culture and practices of stop and search in Scotland during a period of change and the implications of this for understanding the levers and barriers to police culture reform. The questions this research will explore are:

  • What are the current views and experiences of police officers of the policy and practice related to stop and search in Scotland?
  • How is policy change for stop and search, especially the Code of Practice and related training, experienced and operationalised in practice?
  • What are the implications of the implementation of a new stop and search policy for wider questions of organisational and cultural change in police organisations?

Recent academic research and public scrutiny has exposed the scale and scope of the practice of stop and search in Scotland, showing that it has been disproportionately targeted at young people and employed at a rate four times higher than that of the Metropolitan Police Service. Moreover, the use of non-statutory stop and search was found to be the most common search method in Scotland, a practice which is no longer permitted in England/Wales.

Police Scotland have subsequently embarked on a programme of consultation, re-training, and policy reform. As a result of this a new Code of Practice, that will codify and regulate stop and search in Scotland, will be implemented in early 2017. These initiatives represent a significant cultural shift for the organisation, at all levels, an analysis of which will contribute to the wider field of policing studies.

Keywords: Stop and search, police culture, police reform



University of Dundee

School of Social Sciences (Geography),
Tower Building,
The University of Dundee,

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