Seven facts the Home Office concealed
by CAGE (2017)
Image Copyright: CAGE
The most recent data published by the Home Office on police powers under the Terrorism Act show a trend of racial discrimination and increasing evidence of what has been referred to as ‘Al Capone’ style disruption in communities.
1- 70% of those arrested are never charged with a terrorism offence:
While arrests are often grandly announced in the media, a close look at their aftermath reveals that the overwhelming majority of those arrested are never charged under terrorism laws. An alarming 63% are not charged with any offence at all.
However what these numbers conceal is the impact arrests and raids under terrorism laws have on families. ‘Khalid’ who was raided by the police told CAGE: “It is after this day that my mother and father find it hard to sleep at night. Any time there is a small movement or noise they think it’s the police.”
‘Khalid’ had to endure “a year of going through hard times and explaining to [his] family that I am not involved in terrorism”. Such is the stigma attached to victims of these raids.
His case is an example of the many who experienced raids but were never charged or convicted of a crime.
2- Increase use of police bail
A trend CAGE has picked up, is the use of bail as a means to restrict individuals’ freedoms. At times clients feel that they have been placed on bail for an indefinite period of time.
When compared with the relatively small conviction rate, it seems that police bails are used vindictively with the aim of stopping otherwise innocent individuals from living freely.
‘Imran’ who was held under bail conditions for 2½ years described it “like a prison sentence without being in prison.” He said “It’s a huge burden on my shoulders. I can’t plan anything and my family and I live in fear that they may raid our home again.”
3- 90% of those arrested are not convicted under terrorism laws
Of all the 260 individuals arrested, those actually found guilty of a terrorism offence are just 10% or 26 people.
The low rate of conviction must be used as call to review policing tactics in order to improve police-community relations.
The continued heightening of tensions between police and communities, as well as the ongoing fear campaigns in the media, seem completely at odds with the figures available.
The rate of error – 90% of all arrests – naturally gives rise to a broader attitude amongst impacted communities that they feel specifically targeted by the authorities.
4- 88.4% of those detained at ports and airports are from an ethnic minority or otherwise ‘not stated’
This shocking figure proves the discriminatory nature of the controversial Schedule 7 powers. (According to the last UK census, minorities constitute only 14% of the population).
This is further exacerbated because of 19,355 people stopped at airports, only 5 were charged with not complying or other terror related charges. This is a total of 0.02% or a rate of error 99.98%!
For years, CAGE has advocated that people should not be stopped if there is no indication they have committed a crime.
As far back as 2012, former reviewer of terrorism legislation David Anderson stated: “Indeed, despite having made the necessary inquiries, I have not been able to identify from the police any case of a Schedule 7 examination leading directly to an arrest followed by a conviction in which the initial stop was not prompted by intelligence of some kind.”
All this demonstrates that Schedule 7 is of little value to detect crimes but, since it allows invasive questioning by police, it is rather a mass intelligence gathering operation.
5- 72% of those stopped and searched under terror laws are from ethnic minorities or ‘not stated’.
The police carried out 483 stops, 54% belonged to ethnic minorities, a further 18% refused to state, and only 28% identified as white. These stops target and profiles communities in a similar fashion as it once did black communities.
Ayman Marwa, who was stopped under these powers, said: “I was traumatised by the arrest. Before I used to have a fear of people, because I was a victim of a stabbing, and now I also fear the police. I have nerve damage on my left side and I also have a colostomy bag. The police showed no regard for my health conditions despite my protests and agony. The reason they allege [they stopped me] was because I was carrying a box, that I bought from a hardware store, which they believed was an explosive.”
Hindering the lives of the innocent
There is a clear continuation of the trend of ‘disruption’, an approach by security services which focusses on hindering the lives of ‘suspected’ individuals rather than prosecuting them.
It short-cuts due process since individuals are not given the chance to be presumed innocent nor are they allowed to challenge the assumptions made against them.
From CAGE’s work, we have observed that this disruption targets Muslims disproportionately. Officially, however, these statistics remain hidden from the public. The data remains incomplete when it comes to publishing the faith distribution of those impacted, especially in airport stops where this data is recorded according to numerous testimonies we’ve collected.
This gives credence to the belief that these statistics, should they be released, would be highly embarrassing for police, who are continually insisting that they do not target Muslims.