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    Stop and Search abuse of power

    by Sunny on 11th September, 2009 at 3:44 am    

    The IPCC is investigating this complaint by a member of the public:

    On the morning of Wednesday 29 July 2009 the 43-year-old man was walking from Woolwich Arsenal station towards the bus station in General Gordon Square, with his 11 year-old daughter and his neighbour’s six-year-old daughter, when two men approached him. According to the complaint, one of the men identified himself as a plain clothes police officer and carried out a stop and search of the man and the children.

    The man has complained that the officers seized his mobile telephones, USB sticks and a CD; that the children with him were subject to a street search and that he was asked to stand in front of a CCTV camera in order to have his photograph taken, as well as having to have his photograph taken by the officers. The complainant states that, when he asked under what legislation his property was being seized, he was told it was under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

    He also complained that he was given no information as to when he could retrieve his goods or who to contact in order to do so, and that there was no communication from police despite assurances that he would be told when he could collect his things.

    Got it in a press release. And yet there are still people who argue for Stop and Search…

      |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Terrorism

    12 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. Boyo — on 11th September, 2009 at 7:29 am  

      it sounds odd that he was asked to stand in front of a CCTV camera… maybe this is just a new form of theft…?!

    2. cjcjc — on 11th September, 2009 at 1:34 pm  

      Well I will argue for Stop & Search powers…and for the police to be held accountable when the behave like this.

    3. mary — on 20th September, 2009 at 7:13 pm  

      The whole of central London is covered by a Emergency order under this act allowing the police to stop and search anyone without needing a warrant. The order is continually renewed despite it being criticised by some authorities. I don’t know if it goes out as far as Woolwich Arsenal, presumably yes.

      My husband and I were stopped when driving our battered little car through central London early in the afternoon last year, we are both white and in our 50s. We had to get out and they searched the car and interrogated us. They couldn’t confiscate anything as we had nothing to confiscate. They didn’t photograph us but they did call up the DVLC to check we owned the car and they checked it for any faults - none fortunately. It was the Section 44 thing we were stopped for - they gave us a form saying so.

      There were a couple of young special constables involved in doing the search and I assume it is part of this is their training and it is easier to pick on law abiding types to search as they can do that without any aggro. (Neither of us has any convictions for anything, we are not members of any political party, have never been on a demo and both have police clearance to work with young people. So I assume stopping us was completely random. )

      Also they have to stop a fair percentage of white people and females and age groups so the stats don’t show them being biaised against certain communities.

      Daft really and shows what we have been reduced to when a law abiding middle aged english couple can be stopped and searched by two ill educated youngsters so the police can flex their muscle and be politically correct.

    4. persephone — on 21st September, 2009 at 12:16 am  

      “ Also they have to stop a fair percentage of white people and females and age groups so the stats don’t show them being biaised against certain communities. “

      Are you saying females, white people & certain age groups do not ever commit crime? Statistics to prove this? Otherwise it comes across as a ‘bias’

    5. damon — on 21st September, 2009 at 4:22 am  

      I agree Persephone that what Mary said does sound like it could have been said better, but I’m guessing that what is meant (because I have heard the same thing being said on talk radio programmes), is that the police also stop people who do not fit any kind of profile for someone (who for example) might be carrying a knife for self protection purposes.

      That when they find they’ve been stopping BME people disproportionately, that they cynically pick some people at random who don’t look like there should be any reasonable grounds to suspect them of anything, but do it anyway because of the flack they get about still being institutionally racist.

      Just as an aside, but maybe linked some way….
      I’ve just got in from work, which was doing some deliveries and collections in the west end of London.

      I had a bit of time to kill between 10pm and midnight, so I parked up and walked around Soho.
      Old Compton Street was much as how I expected it, but when I walked a bit further down into Leicester Square I got quite a surprise (I haven’t been in Leicester Square at that time of night for some time).

      There were large groups of Asian ”chavs” all over the place. White working class blokes (in groups) were hard to spot, but there were groups of up to 15 people walking about who looked like Pakistani youth.
      It was all US Marine Corps style haircuts with lots of hair gel and brylcreem, (with one of two of their number wearing the male salwar kameez kind of clothing). I’m not exaggerating .. some of them were really cocky. Many of them were in cars, and it seemed like it wasn’t a coincidence that so many of the same kind of youths were there this sunday evening.

      While the anti-terror laws may be wholely the wrong thing to be policing people with, these lads (in my opinion) definitely needed keeping an eye on, and you could quickly tell which groups were there just to have an innocent good time (they’re often smiling and laughing as they talk) and those that were projecting some anti-social gang vibes. (They seem to prefer the sullen look).

      There’s obviously some kind of scene thing going on here that I have been unaware of. Groups of south Asian young men going out and about in Soho and Picadilly Circus There were also groups of Somali youths there too. Some of them of school age, and I wondered why they were out out at 11.30pm on a sunday night.

      I understand it would be easy to knock what I’m saying, but it’s something that surprised me.
      It was the numbers. Some of those ‘Pakistani’ guys looked like they do serious gym time with weights. And their demeanor says that you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of them.

      Maybe it’s guys like these that the police are stopping and searching excessively.

    6. persephone — on 21st September, 2009 at 9:10 am  

      Damon, some stats:

      These figures are from a report in 2007 but show a pattern in the executive summary:


    7. persephone — on 21st September, 2009 at 9:10 am  

      Marian Fitzgerald, a criminologist at the University of Kent, said:

      “Your chances of being an innocent member of the Asian community going about your lawful business and being stopped and searched by the police are infinitely higher than a white person. The police feel they need to be seen doing something to reassure the public, with little regard for the long-term consequences of what they do. It’s questionable that this could be an effective tool in tackling a terrorist suspect.”

    8. persephone — on 21st September, 2009 at 9:13 am  

      Heres another report that is commented upon from the Sinn Fein website in Dec 2008:

      Sinn Féin North Antrim MLA and Policing Board member Daithí McKay has expressed his deep shock at figures obtained from the Board’s Human Right’s committee which indicates that Irish Travellers and members of the Black community are 5 and 6 times more likely to be stopped than, what the reports describes as, ‘an average person’. Mr McKay said,

      “According to the figures within this report the numbers of s.24 and s.21 PACE stop/searches have decreased but in contrast to this the number of s.44 stop/searches has shown a significant increase in the last two years. “the report indicates that members of the Traveller community as well as members of the Black community are 6 and 5 times respectively, more like to be stopped than, what the report describes as, ‘an average person’.

      I am not sure what this report means as to ‘average peson’….

    9. damon — on 21st September, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

      I think section 44 of the Terrorism Act is entirely inappropriate to have been used to just do random stop and searches on young people.

      In the stats in that link @ 6 Persephone, I’m not sure what they really tell.

      In the very first table (Table A) it gives figures for this:
      ”Proportion (%) of ethnic groups at different stages of the criminal justice process,
      England and Wales, 2005/6”
      and shows figures for percentage of an ethnicity in England and wales, and the percentage of stop and searches done to people of that ethnicity.
      Whites who are 91.3% of the population made up 72.2% of people stopped and searched, while Asians make 4.7% of the population and were stopped and searched in 7.9% of the cases.

      But the figures are meaningless really as England and Wales is too big an area to be making assumptions about these figures from. Cornwall is not the same as inner city London or Birmingham.

      Are black and Asian youth (in England and Wales as a whole) more likely to be involved in behavior or with groups of other young people that might bring them to the attention of the police?

      In England and Wales as a whole you’d have to say yes, just on the fact that urban enviroments need more policing than rural ones.

      What then if you focus right down into one particular borough like the ones that have high BME populations in London?
      You hear the police saying that they need to use stop and search to deter knife crime. So you come off the train at Lewisham station like I did a couple of weeks ago and there’s ten police at the ticket barriers with a knife arch and their looking at all the people passing through the station. They’re profiling.

      There looking for youths who to their (perhaps prejudiced) eyes fit the profile of young people who need to be policed. In Lewisham they will probably have in mind someone who looks like the teenage victims of knife and gun crime in London in the last couple of years.

      To a conservative mind, people wearing ‘’street” clothes (hip hop style with hoodies and baseball caps) will look like people to be slightlty wary of.
      The police are conservative, so they pick out young people who have adopted the street style. (Like those young Somali guys I saw in Leicester Square last night).

    10. damon — on 21st September, 2009 at 1:54 pm  

      I agree with what Marian Fitzgerald said in post 7.

      But as for post 8, I wouldn’t take too much notice of anything Sinn Fein says.

      Irish Travellers is a whole other subject and you can’t just put their higher than average dealings with the police down to anti-Traveller racism.

      Like you couldn’t say that the police in England are harrassing groups of Eastern European Roma women who walk around city centers with their babies.

      … Well you could say that, but I’d like to hear some evidence that the police were unfairly targeting Roma people here.

      Just one point about the disgraceful events in Belfast a few months back (which Sinn Fein commented on) when Romanian Roma people were targetted by racists. Romanians have no right to work or recieve benifits in the UK, so what on earth they were going to live on I have no idea.
      Maybe they were independently wealthy and didn’t need to either work or receive benifits and housing assistance.

      And are the police in Northen Ireland already picking on it’s small black community?

      The last time I heard, Northen Ireland’s ethnic minorities were often in need of police protection.

    11. persephone — on 22nd September, 2009 at 1:02 pm  


      “ But the figures are meaningless really as England and Wales is too big an area to be making assumptions about these figures from. Cornwall is not the same as inner city London or Birmingham.”

      I placed a link to those statistics & Irish travelers to give a broader picture than just individual perceptions and assumptions as in the post @ 3.

      The report shows the end result of measures such as stop & search – the statistics for those found guilty/given custodial sentences are interesting eg 16 police force areas with the most complete data, a greater proportion of White defendants (75%) were found guilty than Black (70%) or Asian (67%) defendants. However, custodial sentences were given to a greater proportion of Black offenders (68%) and those in the ‘Other’ category (73%) than White (58%) or Asian offenders (60%).

      “ They seem to prefer the sullen look”

      Hmm I think thats most teenagers and generational wannabees trying to look cool.

    12. damon — on 22nd September, 2009 at 11:10 pm  

      Since making those two posts yesterday, I’ve seen that the issue of knife crime in the UK has been discussed on Pickled Politics a year ago. With Sunny arguing that there was a bit of over-hype happening in this area.
      And I think we can agree that comparisons to The Wire tv series were way off the mark.

      Do the deaths and he amount of knife crime justify the response of stop and search, is something that I’m not sure about.
      Anecdotally, I’d agree with what Sunny said - that it doesn’t.
      Every morning and evening as I drive too and from central London, I see a fine advetisement for our great multi-cultural city in its school kids going to and from school.

      That there are miserly suspicisions about these young people all the time is wrong.
      But then when I see a couple of Commumity Support Officers standing around near the school gates in the afternoon, I think that’s probably a wise move.
      Just to keep an eye on the end of the school day at the bus stops etc.

      Those last figures you give Persephone, are intriguing.
      It would really depend on the kinds of offences that people were found guilty for.
      Isn’t house burglary said to be a more white crime than a black one?

      When I first heard of this armed robbery attack on a Costco store in my borough last week (where a member of staff was shot and seriosly wounded) I was just waiting to hear that the suspects were black.
      I guessed they would be, and they were.

      It’s a proflie thing again. The target (not a Bond Street jewellers but a suburban chepo store that has plenty of cash going in and out), and the report that the robbers were said to be juveniles.

      What might the figures be (in England and Wales) of the different ethnicities who own pitbull type dogs?

      Where I live it seems to be about about even between the races - but where the white population is a majority.
      (Meaning that pitbull type dogs are more popular with black and minority ethnic young people.

      It’s a crappy anecdotal view I’m sure, but just one that I think I’ve noticed.

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