CagePrisoners welcomes the Home Office review of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000. We commend the public review of these powers, which have been a great source of concern to Muslim communities in the UK and exacerbated existing tensions between law enforcement and minority groups.
Yet as we outline in this submission, CagePrisoners is doubtful that simply altering Schedule 7 powers as outlined in the Home Office report is sufficient, however well-meaning these changes may be.
Firstly, Muslim communities and minority groups complain of having been humiliated, frustrated and inconvenienced by Schedule 7 stops at a rate that far surpasses the non-Muslim majority. The very basis on which Schedule 7 searches are conducted – selection based on intuition or unspecified risk factors rather than reasonable suspicion – is counterproductive to combatting terrorism and may constitute a violation of human rights.
Secondly, the perception that to stop members of “suspect communities” rather than suspected individuals – as currently happens – is neither a moral nor an effective way to fight terrorism. CagePrisoners urges the Home Office to learn from the troubling legacies of other stop and search powers, namely Section 1 and 44, and the demonstrated existence of institutionalized racism in our police forces, as detailed in the MacPherson report.
Finally, Schedule 7 stops could become an easy gateway for law enforcement to pursue other kinds of civil and human rights abuses, as clearly demonstrated by the case of Madhi Hashi. As this submission details, while the proposed changes to Section 7 are a step forward, they are not enough to engender trust in minority communities about Schedule 7 powers, given that Schedule 7 has become so notorious for breaches of basic civil and human rights.
(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)