HC Deb 23 July 2004 vol 424 cc877-8W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the recent findings on the percentage of people of Asian origin arrested under terrorism and security legislation. [184174]

Ms Blears

[holding answer 19 July 2004]: Published figures on arrests under terrorism legislation do not include information on ethnic origin. The statistics published recently in the report under section 95 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991 included the ethnic breakdown of those stopped and searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

We are concerned about any issues of disproportionality and are committed to improving and developing a close partnership with all communities towards the shared aim of combating terrorism. We are undertaking specific work to reassure communities that counter-terrorism powers are being used proportionately and appropriately.

The Home Office has formed the Stop and Search Action Team to take work forward to ensure that stop and search as a police power is used fairly and as effectively as possible in the prevention and detection of crime. We have also published guidance for police forces on the authorisation of powers under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which emphasises the need to consider as wide a range of factors as possible when authorising the use of these powers.

The powers within the Terrorism Act are aimed at terrorists, whatever their background or section of society they may come from. They are not aimed at a particular race, religion, or any other social group. In using them, the police have regard to the threat we face in this country from terrorism. That threat is mainly, but not exclusively, from international terrorism in connection with Al Qaida and its associated networks.