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September 28, 2007
Police DVD on Stop & Search ‘misleading,’ says The Muslim News
The Muslim News Friday criticized the launch of a DVD this month by British Transport Police (BTP) on Stop and Search (S&S) under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as “misleading.”
“The film informs us of what the public should expect when they are stopped at underground stations. But what the DVD fails to mention is that a stopped person does not need to provide his/her name or address,” The Muslim News said in its latest editorial.
“On the contrary, the public is being misled by the police by them insisting in the DVD on taking down the name and address of the person stopped. At no time is the victim informed of their right not to disclose this information,” it said.
The Muslim News said that it had on several occasions brought this issue to the attention of the head of BTP, Chief Constable, Ian Johnston, during past consultations after receiving several complaints from the Muslim community to this effect. But despite being reassured by Johnston that police officers were aware of this, the anomaly continues, it said.
Contrary to this, it has even been evidenced that when someone is stopped and refuses to provide their name and address, the police officer would warn them, sometimes even aggressively, that if they do not cooperate, they would be detained and not allowed to continue with their journey.
Under Section 44, the police and the Home Secretary are allowed to define an area in the country to carry out the stop and search of any vehicle or person without suspicion and seize “articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism.” The BTP said the powers were to “deter and disrupt possible terrorist activity by making the rail network a hostile environment.” But there is no obligation for anyone to say what they are doing, or where they are going, let alone give their name and address.
The Muslim News warned that the added danger is that once one is stopped and searched, the information of any named individual remains on the database indefinitely and may in future come to haunt the person concerned even though they are innocent. “The data may be passed to other intelligence agencies and this could even affect a person when travelling abroad or if they are applying for a job in security-sensitive areas. Without any redress, it is a further sign that civil liberties are being continuously eroded,” it said.
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