1 July 2015

London rise in terrorism searches

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Terrorism searches in the capital rose in the last six months of 2014 according to more recent statistics published by the Home Office

Searches in the capital under section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 have rose in the last two financial quarters of 2014 according to Metropolitan Police figures published by the Home Office. Section 43 is power which requires reasonable suspicion to believe that a person is involved in terrorism in order to then search them for any item which may confirm that initial suspicion or not.

Although recorded searches fell from 101 between January-March 2014 to 55 in April-June, they rose to 82 in July-September and then again to 156 in October-December. The largest rise was seen in searches of Asians and those recorded as 'not stated' whereas slight increases were seen in other ethnic groups searched. Only 25 of the total 394 searches that took place in 2014 (i.e. 6%) resulted in an arrest which is 9 fewer than the previous year.

However, there has been a 20% overall reduction in the use of this power in London in 2014 when compared to 2013 and this reflects a wider general decline in the use of all powers to stop and search under various legislation in the last couple of years. Most people searched in 2014 self-defined as white (160), and Asians made the second largest category (88) followed by blacks (47), Chinese or other (36) and then people from mixed backgrounds (10).

Unfortunately, other police forces do not publish their data on section 43 which means that it is impossible to know whether this is a trend in other areas across England and Wales or unique to the capital. Figures to be published this Autumn will reveal whether these recent increases in terrorism searches is part of a reverse to the overall pattern of declined use or if this increase was only temporary.