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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Ethnic groups 'accept searches'
Ch Supt Ali Dizaei
Ch Supt Ali Dizaei says respect is the 'key'
People from ethnic minorities will understand being stopped by police after the attacks, a senior officer has claimed.

National Black Police Association's Ch Supt Ali Dizaei said this would be true as long as people were treated courteously and given an explanation.

On Sunday British Transport Police said young men from ethnic minorities were more likely to be stopped.

But some groups condemned the move, warning it could be counter-productive.

Civil rights group Liberty said terrorists could just use bombers with a different profile to avoid targeted stops by police officers.

Clearly something needs to be done but it needs to be based on 'intelligent intelligence'
Rob Neil, 1990 Trust

Mr Dizaei, the NBPA's legal adviser, told the BBC's Today programme that so far he had seen no evidence that young Muslims or Asians had been stopped more frequently.

He said: "People do not mind being stopped and searched, provided that it is explained to them, provided they're dealt with respect, and provided they're dealt with courtesy, and I think that is the key, and there's every indication so far since the seventh of July that that understanding has been taking place across London.

"These are extraordinary times and people are committed from all communities to work together with the police in order to sort this problem out."

HAVE YOUR SAY
Surely any stop and search policy has to be ethnically neutral, even on the most basic practical grounds
Ian Kemmish, Biggleswade, UK

A British Transport Police (BTP) spokesman insisted the force did not intend to 'single out' any particular community.

"Clearly if we are looking for people and being operationally efficient, we have got to target the people who we think are maybe involved," he said.

"It is going to be disproportionate. It is going to be young men, not exclusively, but it may be disproportionate when it comes to ethnic groups."

Concerned communities

But Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala warned the strategy could be "counter-productive".

"While it is understandable that the police need to undertake every step to thwart would-be bombers it is crucial that they do not unnecessarily alienate and stigmatise an entire segment of society," he said.

Ihtisham Hibatullah, of the Muslim Association of Britain, said such a policy would worsen the situation.

"It won't help in terms of building a relationship or trust between the communities," he said.

"It will alienate the youth and create unnecessary fear about the authorities, especially in the wake of the death of the young Brazilian man."

'Islamophobia'

Home Office statistics showed in 2003/2004 Asians were 1.9 times more likely to be stopped and searched, compared with 1.7 times more likely in the previous year.

In 2004, some groups accused police of unfair targeting of Muslim groups after the number of Asians subjected to a stop-and-search under anti-terror powers rose by 300%.

A spokesman for black campaign group The 1990 Trust, said the British Transport Police policy meant young black men as well as Asians would be subjected to greater scrutiny.

"As someone of Jamaican origin myself I have to confess to feeling somewhat affected by the fact that it emerged that one of the bombers was of Jamaican origin," 1990 spokesman Rob Neil said.

"Clearly something needs to be done but it needs to be based on 'intelligent intelligence', on closer work with all of the communities and with properly researched leads," he said.

The Home Office has defended the BTP's stop and search policy, with minister Hazel Blears stressing officers would be acting on intelligence-led information.

But Shami Chakrabarti, chief executive of civil rights group Liberty, said the move played into the hands of bombers.

She said: "If you search people of a particular race or description while letting others through, it doesn't take long for a terrorist group to learn ways of placing their lethal cargo with those who don't meet the profile."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Muslims give their reaction to the "stop and search" policy




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