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UK police trebled stop and search of Muslims in 2008

London, May 1 (ANI): British Police anti-terror stop and search powers trebled last year, prompting fears that the policy is alienating the country’s Muslim community.

According to The Independent, officers in England and Wales used Terrorism Act powers to search 124,687 people in 2007/8, up from 41,924 in 2006/7.

Nearly the Metropolitan Police, the country’s largest force, which recorded a 266 per cent increase in anti-terror stop and search, carried out 90 per cent of the searches. The Brown Government said the rise in anti-terror stop and search last year was in part linked to the failed bombings in London’s Haymarket district.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne, said the new figures will “only fuel the fear” that anti-terror powers are being misused.

Corinna Ferguson, a lawyer for human rights group Liberty, said: “A threefold increase in anti-terror stop and search is the clearest signal that these powers are being misused. Only 6 in 10,000 people stopped were arrested for terrorism, let alone charged or convicted. And the disproportionate impact on ethic minorities is even greater than in previous years.”

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “People will be highly suspicious about the scale of stop and search under terror laws. This will reinforce the view that anti-terror powers are used for unrelated purposes.”

Under terror and non-terror powers, 1,223,860 people and vehicles were stopped and searched by police last year, a 17 per cent increase. Most police searches are carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, which were up 9 per cent last year to 1,045,923, nearly half of which were for suspected drugs offences. It is the fourth year in a row that the number of stop and searches has increased.

Officers used powers to stop people and demand they account for themselves more than two million times last year, separate figures revealed.

Ministry of Justice statistics showed “stop and account” powers were used on 2,353,918 occasions in 2006/7, up a quarter from 1,601,196 in 2006/7. (ANI)

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