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15 September 2012
If you are not white, perhaps you should think twice about visiting Britain.
Schedule 7 of Britain’s Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police and immigration officers to stop, question and detain for up to nine hours any airline, ferry or train traveller to determine whether they are involved in terrorism.
A British Interior Ministry (Home Office) document published on 12 September 2012 shows that nearly 70 000 travellers were stopped and questioned by security officials under this Act in the year 2011/2012 as they passed through the country’s ports and airports.
Of those stopped and questioned, 60 per cent were from a minority ethnic background, including 29 per cent who were Asian or British Asian.
Of those subsequently detained after initial questioning, 45 per cent were Asians or British Asians, while a further 47 per cent were from a black, Chinese or other non-white background. Only 8 per cent of those detained were white.
A report by Alan Travis in the UK’s Guardian newspaper on 13 September 2012 says:
“People can be targeted by special branch [political security police] under the [Schedule 7] powers without the need for reasonable suspicion that they are involved in any crime. Those who are stopped currently have fewer rights than suspects detained at a police station; they have no access to publicly funded legal advice and failure to answer questions is a criminal offence. They can also be strip-searched and have intimate DNA samples taken from their body.”
The Guardian report goes on to say that Mr David Anderson, the UK Government’s own official reviewer of terrorism legislation, has highlighted the negative impact of these powers on some Muslim communities with many of those stopped feeling they were targeted as Muslims. The effect was to erode trust.
According to the report, the Interior Ministry maintains that these Schedule 7 counter-terrorism powers form an essential part of Britain’s border security arrangements and help to protect the public from those travelling across borders to plan, finance, train for and commit terrorism.
However, the Ministry has now launched a public consultation apparently to determine whether the powers available to the security services under the Terrorism Act 2000 can be scaled back without compromising Britain’s security.
Liberty, a British voluntary organization which champions civil liberties, is said to be about to challenge the Schedule 7 powers in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
Antigone1984 comments: We travel frequently to and from Britain. When travellers arrive on British soil, they must run a gauntlet of stony-faced security officials before exiting the security zone at the point of entry. In our experience, it is invariably the coloured traveller who is yanked from the line and given the third degree.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question(3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices(2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat(31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.