Double-take caption in the Times today reads: “More whites than Asians stopped by antisuicide bomber police.” According to this article, Scotland Yard released figures yesterday on the ethnic composition of its stop-and-search figures: of the 32,000 people stopped between April and August of this year under the Terrorism Act, 17,348 were white, compared to 6,755 Asians and 4,287 blacks. Of course this evidence does not extricate the Police from the witch hunt charge: given the discrepancy in size between London’s Asian and white community (earlier statistics revealed Asians represent 12% of the community, compared with a white population of 63%), Asian people are still 2.1 times more likely to be stopped than white people. Nor does it say much of other controversial 'counter-terrorism' tactics such as the request for university employees to spy on 'Asian-looking' and Muslim students.
In the light of this, the question of why the data were revealed is raised. Toby Harris from the Metropolitan Police Authority explained the police are concerned about the public’s response to their counter-terrorist procedures. He said:
“This will enable local community monitoring groups, through which communities can scrutinise the use of stop-and-search powers in their areas, to challenge any disproportionality and discrepancies.”
Indeed, the Terrorist Act, which legitimises police to stop and search whomever at will, providing they are in an area deemed a potential terrorist target (City of Westminster ranks number one, as do railway stations, airports and most popular buildings), has attracted much wrath from the population at large, who cite the Act as ineffective and a source of alienation amongst London’s Muslim population. Ire has also increased with numbers – the amount of searches over the past five months outstrips the total conducted since the Act’s nascence back in 2000.
Londonist feels none the wiser despite this recent information, although we would place a wager on who would be the most likely victim of a stop-and-search warrant.
By Jemimah Steinfeld