Stop And Search On The Rise Again

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 118 months ago
Stop And Search On The Rise Again

Hanger 72's stop and search form / from the Londonist Flickr pool
You're far more likely to be stopped and searched these days - and in a throwback to the dark recent past, far more likely to be stopped if you're not white.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice showed stop and searches across England and Wales in 2007/08 using the ol' Police and Criminal Evidence Act rose 8% to 1,035,438 - the highest since 1998/99 - the Met accounting for a over a third of total stops. And when figures are broken down by ethnicity, black people are now even more likely than whites to be stopped than at the point Stephen Lawrence was murdered.

And if that wasn't enough to get everyone in a tizz, wait til you see the explosion in stop and search under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. An increase of 215% on the previous year, with the biggest percentage increases recorded for black (a whopping 322% rise) and Asian (277%) people, with whites being searched 185% more. The Met were responsible for 87% of all stop and searches under section 44 during 2007/08. The car bombs around Haymarket are being used to justify the increase, but that rings hollow to us. The people behind the bombs either died or were rounded up (and found to be based outside London) very shortly afterwards. And out of all these stops, just 65 people in London were arrested for terror offences - a success rate of 0.035% (according to the BBC; stats puddle our brains). Does this strike anyone else as spectacularly inefficient?

A lawyer for Liberty worries the massive rise indicates anti-terrorism powers are being misued; Lib Dem Chris Huhne says "excessive use" of stop and search could alienate the very communities we rely on for anti-terrorism intelligence. We can't think what it is... but there's something niggling at the backs our brains, almost like we've been here before...

Last Updated 06 May 2009