Wed, 24 May 2006

MPA full Authority meeting tomorrow

Apparently Sir Ian Blair, the Met Commissioner, will be at the full Authority meeting as well. Will he use this opportunity to apologise? This would be a welcome surprise.

I prepared a response to the response:

As ‘The Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) does not consider the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to have overreacted to the horrific terrorist attacks’ of last July 2005, and that ‘the MPS response in terms of both disaster-management and investigation has drawn respect and recognition from around the world’ we have an essential disagreement. If the MPA finds the MPS is doing a perfect job in respect to its anti-terrorism response then a discussion on how it can be improved is not possible.

This satisfaction can not be shared by all Londoners when there are so many stop and searches under Section 44(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000, and subsequent arrests of innocent Londoners. This does not make us any more secure but does impact the lives of Londoners.

Even Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, appears to disagree with MPA's assessment. He is reported by Bloomberg to have said at the MPA's own 'Together Against Terror?' conference last December: ‘London police have arrested 130 suspects since suicide bomb attacks in July, yet the threat of terrorism continues to increase’.

That's more than all the arrests, whether in connection with terrorism or not, resulting from stop and searches conducted under Section 44(2) during the combined financial years 2003/4 and 2004/5 (the Met arrested 125 persons during this period according to the Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System). And that's only for five months.

Former Home Office criminologist and visiting professor at Kent University, Professor Marian Fitzgerald mentioned on BBC One, on 22 January 2006, that ‘under the Terrorism Stop and search [legislation], the arrest rate there is only 1% and very few of these arrests are anything to do with terrorism.

This shows that that the MPS must work more effectively with more intelligence instead of stopping, searching and arresting Londoners, without reasonable cause, on the basis of a stereotypical profiling.

How can the MPA be satisfied that the MPS keeping DNA samples, fingerprints and palm prints of innocents forever, and PNC records, including mentions of non-conviction, until the Londoner reaches 100 years old increases our security.

The MPA is to be commended on getting the MPS to publish statistics such as the Statistics on Race and the Criminal Justice System. May I suggest the MPA puts further pressure on the MPS for the statistics to be published earlier and to include the number of arrestees being tried and how many are convicted.

The MPA's 'Together Against Terror?' conference was I'm sure a very interesting. It is unfortunate that its existence was announced by a press release only three days earlier and that the selection of the over 150 (100 in the press release) community members has not been open and transparent. I couldn't find transcripts or videos of the event, either. Hopefully lessons have been learned from organising this event and the forthcoming events will be more open to Londoners.

I am disapointed that your response has not convinced me that ‘in counter-terrorism, as in all other fields of policing, the MPA remains committed to securing an effective, efficient and fair police service for all of London's communities.

I'll have three minutes to cover all these points. I'll update the story after the event.

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