FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has recalled the times he was stopped and searched by police because of the colour of his skin.

The SNP leader said it had happened “maybe two dozen times”, adding: “It'd be times when I'd be in a group with white friends, and I'd be the only one that'd be picked out.”

It comes after Police Scotland chief constable Iain Livingstone admitted that racism, sexism, and homophobia are a “reality” in the force he leads.

The frank admission was welcomed as “historic” by the First Minister, who later spoke of the issues he had faced with the police growing up as a Scots Asian man.

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Speaking to LBC, Yousaf said: “Certainly, growing up in Scotland, my interactions with the police when I was younger, were really challenging. Somebody who had never committed a crime in his life, just got on with his everyday life, but I must have been stopped and searched by police well over a dozen times, maybe two dozen times...

“It would be through railway stations that would be British Transport Police, obviously airports, when with my family or friends, and often, you know, it'd be times when I'd be in a group with white friends, and I'd be the only one that'd be picked out.”

He went on: “I remember particularly one incident where I was going through the railway station, again it would be British Transport Police, with a group of four or five other staffers who worked in the parliament. I was a researcher in the parliament coming into Waverly station and they all had their bags because they were going to a music festival afterwards.

“Their bags were much bigger than my rucksack and I remember the group of five of us and the railway transport police saying we're gonna search your bag – and I said what about theirs, and no we’re only interested in your bag.”

The National: Humza Yousaf

The SNP leader went on to recall another incident when he had been driving in his dad’s car at age 17 and police had pulled him over on the way back from playing football.

He said: “I asked them why I was being stopped and they couldn't give me an answer. And I just said to them at that point, it is the colour of my skin, because I can't imagine what else might be, and they were defensive about it. I think for me, it became pretty obvious that this was the reason why I was getting stopped.”

Yousaf said he had had a “few heated exchanges” with police through his life, adding: “It doesn’t matter that I’m First Minister or whatever I think people will often look at my race first.”

The SNP leader was asked about a previous speech he gave in Holyrood where he talked about being called the P word in primary school.

“Do you think for a young Humza now at primary school in Scotland, are they still getting those kind of words thrown at them, or do you think things have changed at all?” LBC asked.

“They are absolutely getting them,” Yousaf replied. “Yes, I mean, my nieces, my friend’s children, of course they still hear those words.

“When I was in primary two or three, when that racism first occurred, there was no maliciousness. My classmates, you know, they'd heard the word from somewhere else and clearly that is why they used it.”

The SNP leader said that one of the “formative ways I got involved in political activism” was after he invited the then justice secretary Kenny MacAskill to a mosque, along with a senior police officer.

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Yousaf said: “They're in a room full of 150 people from the Muslim community, people of colour, who were really upset at that point largely around airport stop and search – and that to me was one of the kind of formative ways I got involved in political activism.

“Living as a minority in this country, particularly as a person of colour, it's exceptionally difficult to explain the barriers we come across every day.”

But Yousaf cautioned that it is not only the police where institutionalised racism exists.

“Our institutions have prejudices and again the Scottish Government, political parties, we're not immune to that,” he said.

“The press is not immune to that, and [we] have to have a really upfront and honest discussion around how we identify those barriers, and genuinely proactively how we dismantle them.”