A ROW has erupted over Labour claims of institutional racism in Police Scotland.

Over the weekend, the party put out a press release claiming figures in the government’s six-month review of the code of practice for stop and search showed that Scotland’s Black and Asian communities were four times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than their white counterparts.

Labour MSP Anas Sarwar said police were making people “feel they are a greater target because of their colour or religion”.

He added: “These figures clearly reveal that people from Scotland’s Black and Asian communities are more likely to be stopped and searched – despite the fact that they are less likely to produce a positive detection and found to be breaking the law.

“We must do more to challenge Scottish exceptionalism and to help build a society free of hate or prejudice.”

The police reacted furiously to the claim, saying the evidence didn’t back up the allegations.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) said Sarwar’s statement was a “premeditated insidious attack on the reputations of hard-working police officers purely for political advantage” that could create “disharmony and distrust”.

Susan McVie, the author of the report was forced to intervene to say the data was not “robust enough to support direct comparison between ethnic groups”.

The professor of quantitative criminology at Edinburgh University’s law school added: “Rate of search for Black and Asian people combined is 2.8 per 1000 which compares with 2.7 per 1000 for white people. No difference. Rates for very small ethnic groups have huge confidence intervals and can’t be reliably compared.”

Calum Steele from the SPF called on Sarwar to “withdraw and apologise”.

The Labour MSP is due to ask Nicola Sturgeon about the statistics at First Minister’s Questions today.