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Racially disproportionate blanket stop & search powers to be expanded in UK

Ahmed Kaballo
Press TV, London

Campaigners are furious with the British government’s plan to bring stop and search policy back into wider usage in England and wales. Many say the plan will disproportionately impact black and minority ethnic communities. 

The British government has decided to expand blanket stop and search powers under a new plan to "beat crime." Measures unveiled on Tuesday include changes to police powers to allow searching people without suspicion in areas where they believe violence could break out under the controversial Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

Across all stop and search powers, black people are nine times more likely to be stopped than white people but under the section 60 act, the rate is even higher at a whopping 18 times. Moreover, the research figures show that 99 percent of section 60 searches do not find any weapons.

The government’s announcement came two months after the Criminal Justice Alliance (CJA), a network of 160 organizations called for the power to be repealed, arguing that section 60 had lead to “thousands of innocent people being unnecessarily stopped and searched every year,” with the number of searches rising from 622 in 2016-17 to more than 18,000 in 2019-20.

Because of pressure from campaigners and activists, the powers were restricted in 2014 by then Home Secretary Theresa May but current British Home Secretary Priti Patel lowered the bar in 2019 to allow police to carry out searches 24 hours a day.

These changes will be made permanent under the government’s new crime-fighting proposals.

It seems unlikely that Pritel Patel will bow to pressure from campaigners after already dismissing the criticisms levied against the plans much like she dismissed the sentiment behind Black Lives Matter protests that swept throughout the UK.

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