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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 07:19 GMT
Minister supports stop and search
Tom Harris MP and BTP Chief Constable Ian Johnston
Tom Harris and Ch Const Johnston in Glasgow's Central Station
The UK rail minister has shown support for transport police after the Scottish justice minister criticised the use of stop and search powers.

British Transport Police have carried out 15,336 searches on people and vehicles in Scotland since 1 July.

The police say the searches keep the rail network safe from terrorists but Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has said it could be seen as harassment.

Rail Minister Tom Harris met the BTP chief constable in Glasgow.

The stop and search figures come in the wake of the terror attack at Glasgow Airport in June.

Over the same period, Scotland's eight police forces have used the stop and search powers about 135 times.

Recent events at Glasgow Airport highlight the importance of counter terrorism in Scotland
Chief Constable Ian Johnston
BTP

Mr MacAskill has questioned why the BTP figure was so high, while similar attention was not being paid to bus stations and the Glasgow underground.

He also suggested that the force was following a "diktat from London" and that its actions could be perceived as harassment or intimidation.

Mr Harris joined BTP Chief Constable Ian Johnston at Glasgow Central Station to see for himself how officers carry out anti-terror searches.

The minister said: "I believe the public consider any minor inconvenience well worth this price and we should all be grateful that the force is working so hard for the benefit of a safer environment on the railways."

Chief Constable Johnston added: "Although there is no reason to believe that Scotland is any more at risk from terrorism than anywhere else, recent events at Glasgow Airport highlight the importance of counter terrorism in Scotland."

He said officers tried to carry out the operations with minimum disruption and there had been no complaints about the use of the powers.

SEE ALSO
Politicians in police search row
20 Dec 07 |  Scotland
Stop and search 'not overzealous'
16 Dec 07 |  Scotland
SNP's random rail search concerns
16 Dec 07 |  Scotland

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