Calculating Stop/Search

Much has been made of the controversial stop search tactic used by Police Scotland.

In 2014, the country’s national police force conducted over 436,000 searches for alcohol, drugs, and weapons.

And, as my most recent data-driven piece for BBC Scotland reports, hundreds of these searches targeted children under 12.

Now – as is typical of any stats-heavy piece – the question is how do you make people relate to these impersonal figures?

Well, one way is to find a case study like Chloe Campbell who says she’s been searched five times in seven years.

But I wanted to find another novel, more innovative way, to engage people in the figures I was bandying about.

So I came up with the idea of creating a Stop/Search Calculator (see below).

Certainly the tool’s meant to be something fun you can share via social media, but this was not meant to make light of this controversial policing tactic – far from it.

It’s meant to personalise the story by showing how many people – given the readers’ characteristics of age, gender, ethnicity, and address – like them have been stopped and searched.

The calculator (built using Tableau Public) allows calculates the proportional rate of searches per 10,000 people in your council area.