In 2000 the 'Terrorism Act' was introduced. One of the new powers that it introduced was for police officers to be able to 'Stop and Search' individuals if they felt this may lead to the prevention of acts of terrorism. The relevant sections of the act are 44(1) vehicles and 44(2) pedestrians. These powers enable a police officer to stop and search individuals in 'authorised areas'. However such authorisation can only be given if the person giving it considers it expedient for the prevention of acts of terrorism.
|`Stop and Search rates have become one of the most visible indicators of racially biased policing practice in London.'
Metropolitan Police Authority Report
Recently released statistics reveal that in 2001/2 and 2002/3 in London less than 1% of people who were stopped and searched under sections 44(1) and (2) were arrested. This has led to concerns that these powers are being abused.
This year's Home Office figures reveal a huge 302% increase in the number of South Asians who were stopped and searched by the police in 2002/3 and serve to confirm the impression that ethnic minorities are being targeted.
`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', notes Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the MCB.
The recent Metropolitan Police Authority report further acknowledges that: 'Stop and Search rates have become one of the most visible indicators of racially biased policing practice in London'.
Sacranie accurately captures the concerns prevalent amongst many Muslims: "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."
The Black and Ethnic Minority Cracking Crime Project are holding a public debate on this issue to which all are invited to come along and contribute. The event will feature contributors representing the following organisations:
Metropolitan Police Service Chief Inspector Gary Lewis
Metropolitan Police Authority representative to be confirmed
Institute of Race Relations Arun Kundnani
Islamic Human Rights Commission Arzu Merali
The barrister Charlotte Kilroy, from Matrix Chambers, will chair the event.
Debate proceedings will be written up and circulated to all attendees and to relevant agencies, including the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police Service, the Metropolitan Police Authority and to Lord Carlyle who annually reviews legislation on terrorism.
Please come along and contribute.