Outrage over UK decision to implement ‘Sus’ laws allowing police to target minorities

October 16th, 2010 - 2:21 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Oct 16 (ANI): According to a new proposal, British police would now be allowed to implement the ‘Sus law,’ which was scrapped in the 1980s after the alleged targeting of black people by police led to race riots in London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

The Sus law was the informal name for ‘a stop and search law’ in Britain that permitted a police officer to act on suspicion, or ’sus’, alone.

According to the Daily Mail, the news threatened to ignite a huge row between the Government and civil liberties groups last night and they feared that the law would allow officers to stop and search people on the basis of their ‘ethnic background’, like it did in the past.

The original law said that police should target suspects only on the basis of ‘reasonable suspicion’ that they are involved in or plotting a crime and not any specific group like Muslims based on an apparent threat from Islamic extremists, the paper said.

However, the draft Home Office police guidance have reportedly set down new rules that would allow ‘race to be a basis for stop and search without suspicion’.

The civil liberties group claims the proposal goes against the recommendations in Sir William Macpherson’s Inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, and would also breach Labour’s Equality Act 2010.

The Act, framed by Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, prohibits race discrimination by public bodies.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said: “Stopping and searching individuals without suspicion is divisive enough without telling police they can directly discriminate on the grounds of race.”

“Significant progress has been made since the Lawrence Inquiry but the Home Office’s planned changes will set the clock back and jeopardise race relations in the UK,” she added.

The controversy centres on Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. This allows for a police officer to stop and search without suspicion in a designated area for a 24-hour period, the paper reports.

Although currently, it does not give any ground for targeting a person on the basis of race, the Home Office’s suggested amendments to the guidance says that while officers ‘must take particular care’ not to discriminate, there ‘may be circumstances where it is appropriate for officers to take account of an individual’s ethnic origin in selecting persons and vehicles to be stopped’. (ANI)

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