|...NEWS RELEASE...NEWS RELEASE...NEWS RELEASE...
02 Jul 2004
Police Using Stop & Search Practice Indiscriminately Against British Muslims
Today's Home Office figures revealing a huge 302% increase in the number of Asians who were stopped and searched by the police in 2002/2003 serve to confirm the impression that since 9/11 institutionalised racism in the police force has gradually been morphing into an institutionalised Islamophobia.
The figures also revealed that the police had an arrest rate of only 13% of those stopped and searched. Regrettably though, neither figures were provided for the number of those that went on to be actually charged or convicted of any offence nor did the figures indicate the religious affiliation of those involved. The MCB calls upon the Home Office to urgently make good this unacceptable deficiency in the interest of greater transparency.
"These figures are quite devastating and confirm what we have been hearing anecdotally from the experiences of a worryingly large and ever-increasing number of young Muslim men. As the recent Metropolitan Police Authority report acknowledged:
'Stop and Search rates have become one of the most visible indicators of racially biased policing practice in London'.
"Just as an entire generation of young black people were alienated through Stop and Search practice, we are deeply worried that the same could now be occurring again, this time to young Muslim men," said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
The Muslim Council of Britain has been urging Muslims to work in partnership with the police, to help combat a common terror threat facing all of us, but this is clearly made more difficult when these very same people or members of their family may well have been stopped and searched just last week, for no justifiable reason. Today's deeply worrying figures will also undoubtedly impact negatively on the ability of the police to recruit and retain Muslim officers.
We note that the government has pledged to set up a Stop-and-Search Action Team to help ensure that Stop and Search powers are not abused by the police. This is an essential first step - many citizens will want to be reassured that the police are also policing themselves adequately and not abusing their powers. The MCB calls upon the Home Office to re-examine this issue in six months time to see if there has indeed been any improvement on the issue of Stop and Search.
Furthermore, the police need to give as much publicity to the release of innocents as it does to those who are subsequently charged as the absence of such positive publicity in our opinion helps fuel the evil of Islamophobia.
Note for Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK's representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.
For further information please contact tel: 07708 065 150
For further information please contact the MCB:
The Muslim Council of Britain,
PO Box 57330,
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079