Anti-terrorist stop & searches target Muslim communities, but few arrests

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This analysis was first published in Statewatch bulletin, vol 13 no 6, November- December 2003

A study by Statewatch of the figures produced by the Home Office in December 2003 shows that:

1. The number of stops and searches as part of anti-terrorist operations is more than double the official figures, 71,100 not 32,100.

2. A large number of police forces are recording anti-terrorist stop and searches under the section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 instead of section 44.1 and 44.2 of the Terrorism Act 2000 thus disguising the real extent of stop and searches under anti-terrorist provisions.

3. The percentage of arrests resulting from stop and searches under the Terrorism Act 2000 was only 1.18% which compares unfavourably with 13% for stop and searches under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (895,300 people were stop and searched of whom 114,300 were arrested in 2002/03).

4. The Home Office admits that that for those arrested as a result of these stop and search: "the majority of which were not in connection with terrorism".

5. Nearly 70,000 people were stop and searched who had committed no offence whatsoever.

6. The low arrest rate and the large number of people stopped and searched suggests that these powers are being widely and arbitrarily used to little effect.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"The consequences of these extraordinary figures needs to be spelt out. They will lead to a deterioration of police community relations within the Muslim community and a decline in key intelligence. There is ample historical evidence that indiscriminate searches may encourage more young men to become involved in their cause. The lessons from 30 years of conflict in Ireland have still to be learnt."

Searches of pedestrians, vehicles and occupants under sections 44(1) and 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 [note:1] and resultant arrests - England and Wales

Year Total searches Resultant arrests

1995 (from 1.4.95) 6 -
1996 40,500 581
1996/ 43,700 486
1997/98 15,400 316
1998/99 3,300 33
1999/00 1,900 18
2000/01 6,400 45
2001/02 10,200 189
2002/03 32,100 380

[Note: 1] Formerly sections 13A and 13B of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 and repealed under the Terrorism Act 2000 (which came into force on 19 February 2001)

1: It should be noted that the high figures in 1996-1998 are largely related to the conflict in Northern Ireland - after the Good Friday agreement in 1998 the numbers drop sharply; 2: There has been a significant rise from the figure of 6,400 for the year up to March 2001 to the recorded figure of 32,100 for the year up to March 2003; 3: The number of those arrested in 2002/3, 380, was 1.18% of those stopped and searched; 4: As the Home Office admits "the majority" of arrests had no connection with terrorism - nor are any figures given for the number of those arrested who are subsequently charged with an offence or those charged who are acquitted; 5: Overall 31,720 searches were carried out where people were innocent of any offence;

6: The Note in the Home Office Statistical report says:

"The table above shows the number of stops and searches in order to prevent acts of terrorism from 1995 (from 1 April) to 2002/03 together with the number of arrests resulting, the majority of which were not in connection with terrorism. In 2002/03 there were 32,100 searches, 21,900 more than in 2001/02 and the highest number recorded since 1996/97. The Metropolitan and City of London police areas saw an increase of 19,400 and 1,100 stop and searches respectively. The increase in the Greater London area was due to

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