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70 per cent of UK port stops under terror laws involve BAME people: Report

Of the 8,095 individuals stopped under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in the past three years, 5,619 (69.4 per cent) were from BAME backgrounds.

Migrants picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel, are escorted off from a UK Border Force boat upon arrival at the Marina in Dover, southeast England, on December 14, 2022. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Recent data from police logs reveals that approximately 70 per cent of individuals stopped at UK ports since 2021 under anti-terrorism laws were from black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Figures show that fewer than one in five individuals stopped during this period were recorded as white, reported The Guardian, who obtained this data under freedom of information laws.

These figures have sparked concerns over the potential institutional racism within counter-terrorist policing, as campaigners argue that the data indicates a disproportionate impact on BAME communities.

Of the 8,095 individuals stopped under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 in the past three years, 5,619 (69.4 per cent) were from BAME backgrounds, while 1,585 (19.6 per cent) were recorded as white British, white Irish, or white other, The Guardian reported. The ethnicity was not recorded in 891 (11 per cent) of cases.

“Schedule 7 powers are broad and intrusive, and decisions about how they are used, without the need for reasonable suspicion, are overwhelmingly made by white counter-terrorism officers,” Kevin Blowe, campaigns coordinator for the police monitoring group Netpol, told the newspaper.

“A lack of scrutiny and accountability means the obligation lies with the police to demonstrate the use of these powers does not lead to unlawful discrimination. Our view is, their repeated failure to do so is the result of state surveillance mechanisms that are institutionally racist. It is time these powers were abolished.”

“The figures from the logs certainly appear not to reflect counter-terrorism’s insistence on a rapidly growing threat of violence from the far right, which has seemingly led to no significant change in the ethnicity of people stopped at ports of entry,” Blowe added.

Blowe challenges a government review by Sir William Shawcross criticising the focus on far-right extremism within the Prevent program. “If there had been a greater level of attention on the far right, you would expect to see a shift in the number of white people who are stopped, but they have been pretty consistent over the years,” he said.

Last month, The Guardian revealed that the Metropolitan police paid damages to French publisher Ernest Moret after he was stopped in London. “What these figures demonstrate is that Moret was far from typical: schedule 7 powers have always been used to disproportionately target people from BAME communities, both British and EU nationals,” Blowe commented.

Anas Mustapha, head of public advocacy at Cage International, urges the recording of religious backgrounds of those stopped under the Terrorism Act. “This new data reaffirms what we already know about its racist and Islamophobic impact,” Mustapha told the newspaper.

“A counter terrorism policing spokesperson defends the use of schedule 7 powers, citing their importance in gathering evidence, detecting threats, and deterring hostile activity,” Mustapha said. “Where the powers are used, there are a range of robust safeguards and measures in place to ensure appropriate usage.”

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