Police watchdog to examine all terror arrest complaints

Muslims feel so victimised by police use of anti-terror powers that the independent police watchdog is to examine all complaints regarding arrests under the legislation.

Serious grievances, involving death, severe injury, alleged racism or large-scale corruption automatically go straight to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. But in other cases, it is up to the relevant police service or the individuals concerned to bring the matter to the attention of the IPCC, which then decides whether to pursue it.

However, the commission thinks the practical application of counter-terrorist measures has so damaged Muslim confidence in the police that it is actively calling in every terrorism-related complaint.

The IPCC will tell the home affairs committee inquiry into terrorism and community relations today that it has requested all 43 English and Welsh police forces to refer complaints or conduct matters arising from anti-terrorist arrests and stop and search.

The IPCC is urging Muslims to come directly to commissioners with grievances, or to go through their mosques or community leaders.

Nick Hardwick, the IPCC chairman, said that Islamic representatives thought their community was being “disproportionately targeted” by the police and had raised “some very significant issues” with the commission regarding arrests and stop and search.

Since the September 11 2001 attacks, British anti-terrorist officers have arrested 701 people, of whom more than two-thirds are thought to be Muslim. But only 119 have been charged with terrorist offences and 17 convicted.

Guardian, 25 January 2005