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Homeland Security

Non-whites targeted under terror laws at UK ports

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 15, IRNA -- An overall majority of people stopped at UK ports and airports under emergency terrorism powers are non-white, according to the first figures of self-defined ethnicity of those detained by police.

The April 2009-March 2010 figures show that only 46% white people were detained by ‘examining officers' despite whites making up over 92% of the British population at the last census in 2001.

In contrast, those defining themselves as Asian made up 27% of those stopped at ports under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, nearly seven times more than their percentage of the country’s population.

Those describing themselves as African/Caribbean were more than three times likely to be stopped than their 2% in the UK, while the remainder 21% detained, self-defined as mixed race, Chinese or other compared with making up only 2 per cent of the census classifications.

The disproportionate number of Asians and other non-whites being detained comes despite schedule 7 being covered by a code of practice which advises that it would be “unlawful to select someone based solely on their perceived ethnicity or religion.”

Under the emergency power, officers do not need to have any reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person ‘is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism'.

But releasing the figures in a parliamentary reply published Tuesday, Policing Minister Nick Herbert said the code of practice advises officers on the criteria for selecting individuals for examination.

“It should be based on known and suspected sources of terrorism and groups individuals involved in terrorist activity,” Herbert told MPs.

Home Office figures obtained under the country’s Freedom of Information last Septembers showed that an increasing number of people are being stopped at UK ports under the emergency terrorism powers.

A breakdown revealed that the number of ‘examinations’ (stop, search and question) under schedule 7 has increased every year from 1,190 in 2004 to 2,473 in 2008. The number in the first nine months of 2009 was 1,773.

The Home Office said the increase in the use of the wide-ranging powers “reflects and is consummate with a period where the threat to the UK was assessed as severe.”

The powers allow the physically removal of a passenger from their vehicle, train, ship or aircraft without any grounds of reasonable suspicion.

People can be detained for up to 9 hours for a thorough examination, including the strip search of children, while their belonging and vehicles are also searched.

Officers also have the powers to take DNA, fingerprints and a profile photo and the figures show that samples have been taken on approximately 1,200 occasions.

Figures show that the more than 10,000 examinations made at UK ports since 2004 has led to only 99 arrests for terrorism related offences and that 17 were initially charged under the Terrorism Act 2000 and 31 with other terrorist related offences.

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