Monday, July 06, 2009

"So obviously far from any known terrorism profile"

Lord Carlile's otherwise encouraging review of the anti-terrorism laws contains one rather odd finding.

According to the Guardian

"The latest police figures show that ­117,278 people were stopped under section 44 in 2007-08, of whom 73,967 were white, 20,768 were Asian and 15,218 black."

Lord Carlile points to these stop and search statistics as evidence that some people are being pulled over to 'balance the books.'

"I have evidence of cases where the person stopped is so obviously far from any known terrorism profile that, realistically, there is not the slightest ­possibility of him/her being a terrorist, and no other feature to justify the stop."

He describes his own experience of stop ans search "sinister" and "intimidating" and told Radio 4's Today Program:

"I'm a grey-to-brown-haired white male, I'm 5ft 10 ins tall, looking extremely conventional."

Neil Lewington is another chap that fits that description. On the 29th of June he was arrested on an unrelated matter (abusing a train conductor) and turned out to be carrying "viable, improvised incendiary devices," to target "non-British" people.

The police are now warning that the is an increased threat of right wing bombings after "England’s largest seizure of a suspected terrorist arsenal since the IRA mainland bombings of the early 1990s."

Lord Carlile's position, stop and search is ok as long as it is targeted at those who "look like" terrorists, is nonsense on the face of it: you can't tell by looking who the terrorists are. One of them might well be a "grey-to-brown-haired white male... 5ft 10 ins tall, looking extremely conventional."


nelc said...

On the other hand, one rightwing nutter isn't a lot to show for 100,000+ stop and searches. Oh, hang on, that guy wasn't stop-and-searched, he was arrested for being a nutter. So, zero for 117,278, then?

Serious waste of police (and public) time, serious erosion of the relationship between the police and public for the result of no terrorists arrested. Which is the excuse for this activity, no?

Auntie Em said...

In 2008 the met stopped 170,000 people under section 44 of the Terrorism Act alone. In total there were 65 arrests. I haven't heard the Met boasting that any of these arrests led to a major convitcion.

There are plans afoot to curtail the power to stop and search without reasonable grounds, but I don't think anything has happened yet.

Keep dissenting.

If you are stopped and searched you don't have to give your name and address. Refusing to do so is not grounds for arrest (sections 2&3 of the Police and Criminal Evidence act 1984 - which governs *all* types of S&S).

The police officer must provide a form explaining the decision to stop and search you. Demand it.

Carry a copy of Mark Thomas' handy guide to persuing a complaint:

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