London’s Metropolitan Police Authority believes the introduction of new ‘stop and question’ counter-terrorism powers would set back community-police relations 30 years according to chairman Len Duvall.
Responding earlier this week to government suggestions that it may introduce the new police power in a forthcoming counter-terrorism bill, Mr Duvall said researched carried out by the MPA “concluded that people were supportive of police counter-terrorism efforts in their name. What they objected to strongly, however, was any indiscriminate or disproportionate use of powers.”
Duvall warned: “if we want to set back community-police relations and return to the bad old days of the ‘sus’ laws of the ‘70s and ‘80s, when levels of mistrust between police and public were at record highs and had drastic consequences, then the introduction of a new blank cheque power to stop and question anyone, anywhere, anytime without reasonable grounds for suspicion, is a very quick way of achieving this.”
Yesterday Members of the Authority agreed with a proposal of Damian Hockney, Leader of the One London Group on the London Assembly that the MPA formally reject the plans. His proposal was seconded by Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly Member.
Mr Duvall has agreed to write to the Government stating the MPA’s opposition.
Speaking after yesterday’s meetings Mr Hockney said: “These government proposals are not wanted by the public, and they’re certainly not wanted by police officers. They know that a major part of the fight against terrorism is retaining the confidence and good will of the public, and not inflaming community relations. They also know that when the police are given new powers, they come under pressure from above to use them as much as possible. The police have the powers they need to deal with terrorism – there is no excuse for any further erosion of our civil rights.”
“The Authority agreed that the Chair Len Duvall would write to the Home Secretary using this wording, and making it clear that the MPA is dead set against any proposals that would give the police wide-ranging powers to stop and question without reasonable suspicion. I am pleased that so many police officers are also aware of the dangers, and made this clear.”