The government does not go far enough in making amendments to Schedule 7. Whilst there are some changes to the legislation IHRC feels that there is still a long way to go.
People can still be stopped without suspicion which opens up the system to abuse and discrimination.
There will be no requirement of recording examinations. Just a recommendation to do so where there are facilities. This is not enough and lacks accountability and security for those being questioned.
The period of detention has been lowered from 9 to 6 hours. IHRC believe this is still too long and that there should be a maximum detention period of two hours. If in this time the security services cannot ascertain if the individual is a threat or not, then they should be let free.
IHRC still has grave concerns regarding the repeated stopping of individuals, people being asked to spy on their own community and the security services asking questions that have no impact on national security such as how many times someone prays. We do not feel that these issues were dealt with adequately by the Home Office.
There is a high level of distrust of the security services at airports and although some of the new proposals may go some way to easing this, the core issues still remain, that is a lack of accountability and transparency of the security services.
Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh, “As a victim of schedule 7, I can attest to the officers lack of training and knowledge on the legislation. The irrelevant questions asked to individuals that have no impact on national security show a systematic failure of the legislation and a deliberate misuse of it by officers. Schedule 7 powers were not given for intelligence gathering, but it seems that they are systematically being used for it. Routinely asking individuals how many times they pray, what mosque they go to and who they voted for will not make our airports and ports safer. If individuals refuse to answer they can face up to three months in prison. Repeatedly stopping the same individuals is not ‘random’, there is obviously a method being employed. The government has failed to address some of our major concerns.”
Notes to editors
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- Chair of IHRC, Massoud Shadjareh, sits on the Schedule 7 National Accountability Board.