490 people in a month stopped under terror laws

[from Islington Gazette]

490 people in a month stopped under terror laws

14 February 2008

MORE people are stopped in Islington under the Terrorism Act than in any other London borough except Westminster, new figures show.

Statistics released by the Met show police stopped 489 people in Islington on suspicion of terrorism during September – the first month that the numbers were made available to the public.

Of those stopped, 72 per cent were searched, but the overall figures are much higher than in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden – where 320 people were stopped during the same period – and Hackney, where only 29 were stopped.

Iman Abouzaid, a business advisor for Muslim Welfare House, in Seven Sisters Road, Finsbury Park, said: “It seems very unusual that they stopped so many people under the Terrorism Act in one month.

“If you go down that route of looking for terrorists then is Islington a place we should be targeting? If so why? It makes me wonder why they would be doing this many stops away from more tourist oriented places.”

The figures are now being released on a monthly basis to raise public awareness about terrorism stop and search powers.

Of those stopped in Islington in September, 50 per cent were white, 18 per cent were Asian and 15 per cent were black.

Shaheed El-Ashaal, chairman of the North London Central Mosque, in St Thomas’s Road, Finsbury Park, where controversial hook-handed Muslim cleric Abu Hamza once preached, said: “I think that the police are very fair and nobody in the mosque has been stopped or searched.

“I don’t think it is anything to do with the stigma of the mosque that has brought about this number of stops. We are an establishment that calls on positive integrations and good citizenship.”

A spokeswoman for Islington Police said: “Section 44 Stop and Search is a proactive measure used frequently by Islington Police to help prevent terrorism. These powers disrupt, deter and prevent terrorist activity, create a hostile environment for terrorists and reassure the public.

“In contrast to other boroughs, Islington has a large number of potential targets including 15 major transport hubs, the Emirates Stadium, four major nightclubs, Upper Street and the financial district. There is no specific threat against any of these places.

“The current terrorist threat is real and serious. The level of terrorist activity has intensified and increased. Terrorists can strike at any time and any place without warning. Stop and search, combined with other covert tactics can make a difference.


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