Non-white Scots being targeted in stop and search drive

December 15th, 2007 - 7:01 pm ICT by admin  

Edinburgh, Dec.15 (ANI): Anti-terror police have carried out over 14,000 random stop and searches in Scotland since the June 30 terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport.
According to The Scotsman, out of these 14,000, non-white people are six times more likely to be targeted, a statistic that has plunged the regions police into a race row not of their choice or liking.
The paper says that British Transport Police in Scotland are stopping and searching up to 100 people a day in stations like Edinburgh’s Waverley and Glasgow Central.
Controversy over the use of random stop and search, granted by the UK parliament seven years ago, has been further inflamed by the fact that Scotland’s chief constables ceased using the power more than four months ago, deciding they were “no longer proportionate”.
Scotlands Justice Minister MacAskill said: “These figures appear extraordinary. I think the public would be right to look for a clear explanation on why the British Transport Police in Scotland believe they need to use these powers with such regularity. It’s a genuine cause for concern.
Scotland is well served by our police who work for, and with, our communities to protect them. Whilst we are in difficult times and it is absolutely vital that we protect our communities, we also have to protect civil liberties too, he added.
MacAskill’s comments will infuriate senior figures within the BTP, which is responsible for policing the UK’s rail network, and further strain relations between the Scottish Government and Westminster.
Two days ago, British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith gave permission to the BTP to continue using random stop and search, ensuring further disruption for travellers at Scotland’s main train stations over Christmas and New Year.
Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, chief constables can apply to the Home Secretary for permission to stop and search pedestrians, vehicles and drivers. Officers are not required to have any grounds to suspect that the person searched is involved in a terrorist act, or any crime.
The process typically takes between five and ten minutes and involves taking detailed notes, including a person’s address, hair colour, build and shoe colour, as well searches of their possessions and/or car.
The powers were granted to chief constables on July 1, the day after a vehicle was driven into Glasgow Airport’s main terminal building and set on fire.
Each police force is required to reapply to the Home Secretary every 28 days if they wish to continue using the powers.
Scotland’s eight forces used the powers only in July, carrying out more than 130 searches on people and vehicles.
Between July 1 and December 11, 9,563 people, and 4,371 vehicles, were searched - an average of nearly 90 a day.
In the past few days, The Scotsman has learned the average has exceeded 100, although police stress there is no specific terrorist threat. (ANI)

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