What do you think of when you hear the words ‘anti-terrorist operation’ and ‘stop and search’?
Are you reassured? Do you think that it’s all targeted and intelligence driven, out to halt specific threats in the course of securing democracy?
Or do you think that it’s all a bunch of horseshit, and not a million miles away from Belfast back in the good old days of turnstiles and iron bars at every access point?
If you subscribe to the first point of view, I wish you all the best. If it’s the latter, then you could do worse than read el Reg‘s take on it.
Feeling unsafe in your life? Looking for reassurance? The Metropolitan Police Service can help you with a touchy-feely new innovation. It’s called stop and search.
A new document hints at a shift of emphasis in the Met’s strategic vision for counter terrorism stop and search powers. It’s going to be a public relations tool.
How’s this for a stat: of over thirty thousand supposedly terror related searches between 2003 abd 2007, less than eighty resulted in anyone being charged with a terrorist related offence. Given recent happenings in the courts, that’s probably less than forty being convicted of anything, and less than fifteen being convicted of any terror related charge. Oh, and less than a single device being found or plot being foiled.
So, my question is this: is it worth creating records on thirty thousand innocent people to charge 79 with offences that they’re highly unlikely to be guilty of?
Is it worth making thousands of people victims of state aggression in the name of reassuring the rest of us? Because here’s a little factoid that I think is interesting: if you grant that Red Ken was able to count, and that there are seven million Londoners, then 0.429% of Londoners were stopped and searched, as opposed to 0.248% of those stopped being eventually charged with a terror related offence.
Personally, I’m not exactly thrilled with those odds…