Stop and search in London: counter-terrorist or counter-productive?

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90 Citations (Scopus)


The principle of 'reasonable suspicion' aims to prevent the abuse of the police power to stop, search and arrest and to increase accountability. The lack of a 'reasonable suspicion' requirement in stop and search under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 generated controversy and demands for legislative reform. Questions were raised about whether counter-terrorist policing efforts under s44 were effective of merely compromising civil liberties and sanctioning 'ethnic profiling'. Drawing on observations of stop and search operations, interviews with police and people in London, this paper examines the implementation, experience and perception of s44 from the perspective of police and policed. The paper contends that the spectre of terrorism has legitimated unfair policing - both conceptually and practically - and ethnic minority communities have become suspect and potential intelligence sources. This is inherently problematic, generating a binary framework of expectations which are intangible and contradictory in pursuing human security. Ethnic minority communities have been criminalised, reified in reference to their religious backgrounds, and intra-ethnic tensions and ambiguities have deepened.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369 - 382
Number of pages14
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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