British Asians 'targeted by terror laws'

24th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

British police are up to 42 times more likely to use counter-terrorism powers to stop and search people of Asian origin than white people, a report said on Tuesday.

Police are using a power, granted under the Terrorism Act 2000, which allows them to stop people at ports and airports for up to nine hours without the need for reasonable suspicion of involvement in a crime.

More than 85,000 such stops were carried out in 2009 and 2010, according to figures obtained by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.

An analysis by The Guardian newspaper found that people of Asian origin -- normally people from south Asian countries such as India and Pakistan -- were up to 42 times more likely than white people to be stopped.

Asked by lawmakers on Tuesday whether people of Asian origin in Britain felt they were being singled out, senior police officer Nick Gargan said there was "no shortage of evidence" to back up the claim.

"There is the perception that that's precisely how communities feel," he said.

A total of 2,201 of the stop and searches lasted more than an hour and fewer than one in 100 resulted in an arrest being made, according to the figures.

People of Asian origin made up 41 percent of these stops, white people 19 percent, black people 10 percent and others 30 percent.

Asians make up five percent of Britain's population, while white people make up 91 percent.

Police denied they were singling out any specific groups.

Existing rules ensure "that the examination of a person cannot be based solely on perceived ethnicity or religion," said John Donlon, of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

"Activity is intelligence-led and officers deployed at ports do not single out particular ethnic groups for examination."

© 2011 AFP

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