by a Newsnet Reporter
Humza Yousaf, SNP MSP for Glasgow, has welcomed calls from David Anderson QC, the UK’s Counter-terrorism watchdog, for a review of airport security.
Mr Anderson made the call after it emerged that 85,000 people have been stopped at airports since anti-terrorism legislation came into force in previous years. Increasing numbers of organisations and individuals have warned of a risk of creating grievances amongst minority groups who feel they are disproportionately affected by the legislation.
Last week, Mr Yousaf hosted a meeting of over 80 people from Scottish ethnic minority communities with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar and senior counter-terrorism officials and police officers to discuss the use of the stop and search powers provided for in the legislation.
During the meeting a number of concerns were raised, including inappropriate questions being asked about people’s religious observance and the frequency with which some entirely innocent citizens had been stopped and searched. Mr Yousaf sent a letter and petition to Home Secretary Theresa May calling for a review last week.
In his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr Yousaf said: “I believe it is essential that all sections of the community across the UK have confidence in the police forces that serve them and that strong working relationships are maintained. Legislation that is draconian in the powers it confers on police officers and others, and that seems to target some groups over others only serves to damage relations with the police.”
Commenting on the support given by Mr Anderson, Mr Yousaf said: “I am pleased that our calls for a review into the Government’s policy in airports are being listened to. David Anderson QC is an extremely influential voice and as the independent reviewer on counter-terror legislation he is in a good position to judge the effectiveness of these measures.
“During our meeting last week, there were clear concerns from the ethnic minority community and in particular members of the Muslim community.
“There is no doubt in my mind that these measures are creating resentment and a sense of grievance in minority communities and on that basis I welcome Mr Anderson’s support for a review.
“Mr Anderson also raises an important point about the way information is recorded. Without more detailed and accurate data about those who are stopped, including ethnicity and religious background it is difficult to hold those responsible for security to account and identify where there are issues to address.”