Latest Home Office figures show need for airport security review

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Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf has renewed calls for a review into airport security measures particularly Schedule 7 powers, after the latest round of statistics released by the Home Office.

Figures show that of the 65,684 stops carried out at UK airports and seaports in 2010/11, 55% of those stopped were non-white, despite only making up 8% of the UK population.

Furthermore, of those stopped and questioned for over an hour, 84% were of a non-White background showing a remarkably disproportionate use of Schedule 7 powers.

Commenting Mr Yousaf said:

“Everybody understands the severity of the global threat of Al Qaeda inspired terrorism and certainly no one I’ve talked to expects grannies going for their holidays in Jersey to be stopped for security purposes. However, the arbitrary use of Schedule 7 is damaging trust and relations between the Police and our communities.”

“Of the 65,684 people stopped under Schedule 7 less than 1.5% of them were actually detained and most likely even less have been convicted. This points to a real deficiency and ineffectiveness of such a measure.”  

“Policing has to be intelligence-led. If innocent Scots are being stopped over 10 times while travelling through our airports this will only breed resentment against the authorities. Any counter-terror expert will tell you that such a sense of grievance can often lead people down the road of violent extremism.” 

“The calls for a review into Schedule 7 powers are growing louder by the day. I am pleased to join with colleagues from Westminster, from different political parties, in urging the Government to include Schedule 7 in their current review of counter-terror measures. I recently met with the Independent Reviewer of Counter Terror legislation, David Anderson QC, and he too has backed calls for the Government to carry out such a review.”

“It would be foolish of the UK Government not to listen to their own reviewer of this legislation and I therefore expect confirmation of a review of Schedule 7 to be forthcoming.”

Zin Derfoufi from the community action group StopWatch said:

“Whilst we congratulate the government for finally releasing this data and welcome the 23% reduction in the total number of unnecessary Schedule 7 stop and searches or detentions at ports, the statistics confirm that people from ethnic minorities, particularly people from Black or Asian backgrounds, are more likely to face the more extreme aspects of the power and be detained for longer periods of time.”

“We reiterate our calls for the government and police to adopt a more intelligence-led approach to policing which has, time and time again, shown to be more far more effective in preventing terrorism than simply profiling people at ports based on their perceived ethnic or religious background”