Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Stop! Police - alright, finish wiping your nose first, but then FREEZE!

Today on "things that shouldn't really be true in a fair democracy but somehow doesn't seem too shocking in the UK," we bring you the news that the Metropolitan police, as part of their heroic attempts to frisk every Londoner several times over, have used their powers of stop and search to, well stop and search 58 (fifty-eight) children (kids, bairns, young 'uns, wee whipper-snapppers) under the age of 10 (ten, one-more-than-nine, too young to be considered criminally responsible).

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Carlile, responsible for oversight of anti-terror laws, laments their use on children of such a young age:
"I find these figures uncomfortable. There is absolutely no evidence of children in this country being involved in acts of terrorism." He described the fact that more than 2000 children aged 15 or under had been stopped under section 44 as a "very high figure" and added: "It shows some evidence that section 44 stops may have been used as an instrument of general policing rather than for the special purpose for which they were designed, which is not acceptable."

Give a police force/council/any authority sweeping powers to do as it pleases and it will, repeat will, lose perspective. There's an inevitabilty about it. And as for the Met's defence of its actions, I'm afraid
The threat to London from terrorism is real and serious and these powers are an important tactic in our counter-terrorism strategy
is nothing more than a straw man. The threat from terrorism may well be real (how large it is is up for discussion of course), but that doesn't justify stopping and searching kids too young to watch the latest Harry Potter movie unaccompanied.

And calling stop-and-search an important tactic in our counter-terrorism strategy is not unlike the claims made by the chap throwing pellets out of his train window in Arizona - when asked what he was doing, he replies, "Why, I'm throwing anti-elephant pellets out to keep the elephants away." The bemused onlooker points out that there are of course very few, if any, elephants in Arizona; "Must be workin' then!" replies our protagonist - the absence of a serious terrorist atrocity since 7/7 is not necessarily because of, or linked to in any way, the stopping and searching of nine year old boys and girls.

Three words: MAKE IT STOP.

[*exasperated, goes off for a lie down*]


Gervase said...

Is there any reason to believe that these 58 under-tens were believed to be terrorists? Is it not more likely that they were suspected of carrying knives, which we know some have been found to do?

Either way, it's to be deplored: Section 44 should not be used in that context. But perhaps Lord Carlile has got it a bit wrong.

Anonymous said...

One of today's Daily Mail polls: "Should police stop and search children under 10 without a parent present?" (currently 50/50). Linky.

teekblog said...

@ jdc325: 50/50...?! FIFTY-FIFTY...?! I give up...!!

Jhon said...

The bemused onlooker points out that there are of course very few, if any, elephants in Arizona.

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