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No terror arrests in stop-searches

No-one stopped and searched by police under controversial anti-terror powers was arrested for a terrorism-related offence, figures show.

A total of 101,248 stop and searches were made under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in 2009/10, but only one in every 200 led to an arrest and none of these were terror-related, the figures released by the Home Office show.

Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review of the controversial stop and search powers earlier this year, saying she wanted to correct "mistakes" made by the Labour government which, she said, was allowed to "ride roughshod" over civil liberties.

Across Great Britain, 506 arrests were made after people were stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, 0.5% of the 101,248 stop and searches, compared with 10% of stops carried out using non-terror powers.

But the use of the stop and search powers fell by 60% compared with 2008/09, the figures show.

Anti-terrorism chiefs ordered an escalation in the use of the powers after the failed bomb attack against the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London's Haymarket in 2007, which resulted in more than a quarter of a million people being searched in 2008/09 - the highest on record and more than twice the level of the previous year.

But after a public outcry over the use of searches, which have a disproportionate effect upon minority groups, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson ordered them to be scaled back in London.

The powers allow officers to stop anyone in a specified area without the need for reasonable suspicion.

The review of the Government's counter-terrorism policy, which will report shortly, is being carried out by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ken Macdonald, who led changes in the way terrorists are prosecuted. It involves police, spies, public officials and campaigners and will focus on control orders, stop-and-search, pre-charge detention, deportation of terror suspects and the use of surveillance by local authorities.

The number of terrorism arrests also fell last year, down to 173 from 190 in 2008/09, separate figures showed. But the majority of the 52 charged were charged with offences that had nothing to do with terrorism.


From Belfast Telegraph