Stop and scrap

Eastern Eye 12 October 2007

BRITISH Asians have blasted the police about a "misleading" DVD on the use of stop and search powers.

British Transport Police (BTP) launched a Stop and Search Com­munity Information DVD to explain its powers under the Terrorism Act.

British Asian groups are furious that the DVD fails to tell viewers that a person does not have to give their name and address when stopped by police officers.

They fear the information could be passed onto intelligence agencies and used against a person when they travel abroad or apply for a job. Asians are twice as likely to be stopped-and-searched on the street than whites under this Act.

Massoud Shadjareh, chair of Isla­mic Human Rights Commission and a member of the Home Office’s stop and search community panel, told Eastern Eye: "Any inaccuracies need to be put right.

"We were invited to watch the DVD after it was done, when it was too late. It’s just madness. In some ways it’s wrong and misguided of the BTP to not consult the communities that will be most affected."

Jagtar Singh is the vice chairman of Sikh Federation UK.

Mr Singh said: "The likelihood is that the people being stopped are not likely to be the most educated, and need it spelt out to them.

"It’s disappointing that the BTP are doing something which will mean, indirectly, people will give information that may be used against them in some way.

"If it was an error, they should correct it."

The BTP said it had no plans to change the content of the DVD, but "welcome feedback on the DVD and, of course, would ensure any future version of the DVD incorporates this information".

A spokeswoman said: "Although the DVD covers the broad experience of stop and search powers, the leaflets [provided] are explicit about the legal framework for any stop, including the fact that individuals are not required to give their name and address."

Under section 44 of the Terrorism Act, police can search anybody without any reasonable suspicion in an area where there is a high risk of a terrorist attack.

The DVD, launched last month, is being sent to community groups, but the cock-up has lead to several complaints from asians demanding the DVD be corrected.

Arjun Malik is a spokesman for the Hindu Human Rights group.

Mr Malik said: "If they are going to get information [from people who are stopped and searched] it could go on a database.

"The DVD should be more clearer. I understand situation of security, but they are not being clear about their intentions."