The latest counter-terrorism statistics hint at racial and religious profiling and suggest freedom of movement is being increasingly restricted. Actual terror related convictions remain low.
2/3 were not charged on terrorism-related charges
Although terror related arrests have slightly decreased in comparison to the previous year, the high number of those not charged with terrorism offences after being arrested, is a huge cause for concern. Terror raids are exceptionally traumatising for the families involved. Although terrorism charges may not be pursued, the emotional and reputational damage from such raids are lasting on both individuals and families.
Laura Stuart, who was arrested following a terror raid and came to CAGE for advice, said about her experience after she was given a N.F.A by the police: “I did not want to tell my family or friends about what had happened to me. Other friends had told me that when they had been arrested their friends, neighbours and even family reacted with fear. You find yourself alone once police are involved”.
Life on hold: Increase in the use of bail
The increase in the use of bail is troubling, since individuals on bail have significant restrictions on their freedoms. Our casework proves that individuals are placed on bail for unnecessarily lengthy periods of time, only to have the charges dropped. Bail conditions are increasingly disruptive, causing people to live “on hold”. This means individuals are literally unable to live normally or make any serious commitments such as finding employment and getting married. Police bail often bars the suspect from associating with friends, travelling abroad and, due to the confiscation of identification documents, many cannot find work, study or rent accommodation.
Imran, a client of ours, spoke about his experience: “I’ve been on bail for 2 ½ years. 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. They have all the evidence, so why is it dragging on for so long? Because of the restrictions, it’s like a prison sentence without being in prison.”
Inordinately long bail periods also violate the rule of law. David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation said: “In principle you should never be on police bail for more than three months without the permission of the court, and the court should scrutinise the conditions you’re placed under because those conditions themselves can be quite onerous”.
87% not convicted of terrorism-related offences
Overall, only 13% of individuals were convicted of terrorism related charges. This is a slight increase of 3% since last year. Nearly 50% of those convicted had pleaded guilty and the majority (55%) received short sentences of 1-4 years. Despite the climate of fear terrorism raids and arrests cause, the low conviction rate is consistent with recurrent police reassurances after terror raids and arrests of “no threat to the British public”.
75% increase in detentions at ports and airports under schedule 7
Despite the Home Office declaring the use of Schedule 7 stops having fallen by 21% on the previous year, prolonged detentions under Schedule 7 powers have increased, alarmingly, by 75%.
Individuals held under Schedule 7 are held for up to 6 hours, have limited access to legal representation and do not have the right to remain silent. Property can be confiscated for up to seven days, pictures, fingerprints and DNA can also be taken. In some instances the police have conducted strip-searches during Schedule 7 stops. In many regards, being accused of a serious crime at a police station warrants an individual more rights and protections than one is afforded under Schedule 7.
78% of those detained under Schedule 7 are from ethnic minorities
Deep within the numbers we find the shocking statistic that 78% of those detained under Schedule 7 powers are from ethnic minorities. According to the last UK census, minorities constitute only 14% of the population . This extreme disparity suggests racial profiling is systemic at Schedule 7 stops.
There is also no breakdown of stops based on religion, which may prove even more embarrassing if published. People stopped at Schedule 7 stops have told CAGE that the line of questioning is extremely intrusive and uncomfortable. The officers tend to focus on questions surrounding ideology, identity and political opinions.
Schedule 7 has a damaging effect on people’s trust in the authorities as it is used at the most stressful times for families, during travel. CAGE has documented numerous Schedule 7 cases which can be found on our website Schedule7Stories.com.
CAGE has recently published the story of Ahmed who was stopped under Schedule 7: “The police officers were extremely hostile and prejudiced,” he said. “The fact that I looked like a Muslim and had travelled to Kenya before, was enough to suspect me of being a ‘terrorist’.
Nearly a 1/3 increase in stop and search with over 50% from minorities
Stop and search under terrorism powers increased by 32% on the previous year. Five hundred and twenty people were stopped last year, and of them, only 11% were actually arrested. At least 53% were from ethnic minorities with a further 16% declining to identify themselves by ethnicity.
read more: Know Your Rights
Authorities are isolating communities
The above statistics hint at a marked increase in racial and religious profiling at airports, and an increase in the use of bail – both underlining a trend where the freedom of movement of individuals is being restricted. This, at a time when actual charges and convictions are low. This securitised state of play antagonises and isolates communities, and will contribute to feelings of grievance and alienation, in the end doing very little to secure the support of Muslims for counter-terrorism initiatives.
Have you been stopped on Schedule 7 and would like to share your story? Contact CAGE
(CC image courtesy of West Midlands Police on Flickr)
(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.)