Saturday 16 October 2010

Civil Liberties? Not if you're Black

I don't know why I get surprised really.

When the coalition announced that they were going to put and end to police "stop and search" powers, it was one tiny little step that lefties could celebrate. 
We all knew that for too long these powers may have been abused, that young black men were much more likely to be targeted than young white men. Hell, Richard Blackwood even does a sketch about it, joking that the police always assume he must have either stolen the car he drives or be a drug dealer.

Now, I kid you not, but the government have added an amendment to the law that reads 

''There may be circumstances, however, where it is appropriate for officers to take account of an individual's ethnic origin in selecting persons and vehicles to be stopped in response to a specific threat or incident, but this must not be the sole reason for the stop.''
The Telegraph goes on to report:
"The guideline would also mean police no longer have to record when a person is stopped by an officer and asked to account for their presence or actions.
The requirement was recommended by the 1999 inquiry in a bid to improve accountability and safeguard minority ethnic communities from institutionalised racism.
Under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, a police officer can stop and search anyone without suspicion in a designated area for a 24-hour period.
Isabella Sankey, Liberty's policy director, said: ''Stopping and searching individuals without suspicion is divisive enough without telling police they can directly discriminate on the grounds of race.
''Significant progress has been made since the Lawrence Inquiry but the Home Office's planned changes will set the clock back and jeopardise race relations in the UK.''

So, the next time you hear Mr Clegg claim that tiny, tiny, fig leaf of "protecting civil liberties" that he uses to cover up breaking every manifesto commitment his party made, do remember that he actually only means civil liberties for white, British, nationals.


  1. sue,

    I did not know that and it is shocking. In Northenr Ireland the police have always had these powers. I grew up with them being practised on a daily basis. I have been frisked more times than a remand prisoner returning from a trial..

    The thing is that the police will always excercise these powers regardless if it is legal or not. and they get away with it.

  2. Isn't it astounding? I was truly shocked when I read it, and even wonder if it can be legal under Human Rights legislation or EU law.
    Talk about a backward step. I know the police will do it anyway, but legislating for it can only make things worse, surely?

  3. Sue,

    yes I agree. A reincarnation of Brixton '83. Maggie's Army returns.

  4. So this government is announcing a bill to end stop and search powers for the police which will actually increase them?
    Sometimes I think the old Thatcherites were better. At least she would have openly admitted what she was doing.
    I hate hypocrites above anything else.

  5. See, this is my problem Julian. I said in my final post on UKPR that I actually missed Maggie!! At least she was measured, intelligent and would never, ever allow a policy announcement full of holes.
    In ever single area, the coalition seem to be releasing ill thought out policies and the worst of it is that they tell the public one thing and do something quite different.
    The "re-organisation" of the NHS, taking money from failing schools to give to successful ones, but calling them "free schools" Social cleansing but calling it a "housing benefit cap" the list just goes on and on.
    I am actually frightened.
    Combine the ideological zeal of Osborne with the speed they are moving and the lack of consideration in their plans and I dread to think what will happen by 2015 - that's without the very good chance that they'll ruin the economy along the way.

  6. @Sue........Anthony would have moderated that, and of course, your's is a very subjective view, no problem there, I was always being snipped or moderated on UKPR but that's because I too took a view, you can't always be reasonable, it's boring. Anyway, needless to say I think you're safe and there is no need to be frightened......the cup is half full from here. :-)

  7. @Sue........On stop and search, I live in an area where there is a high level of, 'black on black' violence and gun crime, hence the introduction of 'Operation Trident' which focuses purely on that demographic. I work, part time,with BME groups, when I speak to the relatives of mostly young, black males, they are always supportive of targeted stop and search because it reduces the number of weapons carried and it is a deterrent, the only one available, at the moment. It isn't racist because black people have asked for it, it cuts down the possible tragic consequences of young black guys carrying weapons with impunity, makes sense to me and the local population, but not to you.

  8. The lack of accountability in ceasing to record stop and searches is a big concern. They'll present it as cutting red tape.

  9. Ken - Your experience makes me feel better, but there are thousands and thousands of young black and Asian people who feel victimised and harassed by stop and search - very few young white men have the same problem.
    I fear this just makes things worse.
    After all, why stop stop and search if you don't mean to do it for everyone?

  10. Ken - This aint UKPR my dear!

    Don't expect me to be non-partisan, it was agony, lol.
    I will always try to be fair and polite though (check out the post on cutting pension tax relief)

    Pam - You couldn't make it up could you?

  11. This government surpasses worst expectations, how can the Libe dems go along with this???

  12. Hi Sue...........We are baby-sitting the grand-kids tonight, the kids are out partying.
    We must be careful not to stereotype young Asian and black males as victims, I don't see them as such, they do need help........but I do think there is too much advice, well intentioned but mis-guided, based on flawed assumptions. You say there are thousands and thousands of Asian and black youngsters feeling harassed and victimised by stop and search........That might seem to be the case, but in my experience it simply isn't. The young people that I deal with have records that would shock most people, but I find that what they need most is a foot in the door of conventional society, and then they adapt quickly, they are very smart and progress rapidly. They take stop and search in their stride, and accept it as a positive if it prevents heartbreak in their community. The generally politically motivated commentators providing fuel for the fire don't understand the damage they are doing propagating a flawed perception.

  13. Ken, why can a law justify treating one group of individuals differently because of their race?

  14. Ken, doesn't seem to be just us "politically motivated commentators:

  15. @Pam/Sue.........Ever heard of paralysis by analysis ? :-)