Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 12:52 UK

Police 'terror searches' treble

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Police stopped and searched three times as many people under anti-terrorism powers in 2007/8 compared to the year before, Home Office figures reveal.

Some 124,687 stops and searches were conducted in England and Wales under anti-terror laws, but only 73 - 0.058% - ended in arrests for terror offences.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said there was "clear guidance" to ensure the powers were used proportionately.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said many would be "highly suspicious".

Anticipation of violence

The numbers mean that 2007/8 was the fourth year in a row that the total number of stop and searches increased, and the figure for suspected terror offences was by far the highest ever.

Almost 90% of searches took place in London, the statistics reveal.

This will only serve to reinforce the view that many anti-terror powers are being used for unrelated purposes
Chris Grayling
Shadow home secretary

The Metropolitan Police recorded a 266% increase in the number of searches.

The figures also show that police carried out well over a million stops and searches in 2007/8 using powers under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act - 9% more than the previous year.

There was also a 19% increase in stops and searches in anticipation of violence using public order powers to to 53,250.

Following anti-terrorism searches, some 1,198 people were arrested for other reasons.

Mr Coaker said the rise reflected the police response to the terrorist threat during 2007/8, most notably the events in Haymarket, London.

He added that stop and search was an "important tool" for the officers.

"But we are clear that its use must be proportionate, which is why there is clear guidance about when and how these powers should be exercised and we are working with the police and community groups to ensure that the powers are implemented fairly," Mr Coaker said.

But Mr Grayling said: "People will be highly suspicious about the scale of stop and search under terror laws.

"This will only serve to reinforce the view that many anti-terror powers are being used for unrelated purposes."

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