Home Office stop, search plans are 'discriminatory and racist', warns UK watchdog

Written by: Abdul Nisar
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London, Nov.16 (ANI): Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission has described government plans to allow police to stop people on the grounds of skin colour as discriminatory and amounting to racial profiling.

It wants the plans dropped and has warned there is a high risk that British and European laws will be broken, The Guardian reports on the basis of a copy of a letter that the commission has forwarded to the Home Office.

Serving officers represented by the Black Police Association have also damned the plans as a "concession to racism" as opposition to the measures intensifies.

The issue threatens to test the credibility of Conservative claims to be an inclusive party and drag the government into a dispute over race.

The Home Office says it intends to press ahead and introduce the guidance allowing race to be taken into account when a police officer stops someone if it is judged to be relevant.

It says race cannot be the sole reason for deciding to conduct a search, and the government insists the new measures will "protect civil liberties".

The issue of the police stop-and-search powers is particularly controversial because officers are more likely to target a minority ethnic person than someone who is white.

African-Caribbean people are already at least six times more likely to be stopped than white people under powers where an officer has reasonable suspicion to carry out a search.

The Home Office proposals cover stops where officers do not require reasonable suspicion, a power they have under section 60 of the Public Order Act, meaning police have maximum discretion.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The proposed new guidelines make clear that ethnicity may not be used as the sole basis for stopping and searching anyone under section 60."

But in its letter to the government, the commission said: "We consider there is a significant risk that this provision will result in race discrimination." (ANI)

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