London cops catch and search a potential terrorist every three minutes

London's cops use their anti-terrorism powers to stop and search someone every three minutes, all day and all night. That's a lot of potential terrorists! I'm sure glad they've all been made to turn out their pockets and surrender their dignity. That'll show 'em! Stupid suicide bombers.
The Metropolitan Police used section 44 of the Terrorism Act more than 170,000 times in 2008 to stop people in London.

That compares to almost 72,000 anti-terror stop and searches carried out in the previous year.

Of all the stops last year, only 65 led to arrests for terror offences, a success rate of just 0.035%.

Note, they don't say that there were 65 convictions, or even 65 sustained charges, just 65 arrests. My guess is that the number of convictions in this case is approximately zero. Which would be a success rate of 0.000%.

Capital sees rise in terror stops


  1. I promise I can beat a 0.035% success rate at a fraction of the cost and disturbance to society.

  2. Think of it as a training exercise. When the shit comes down and everybody has to be searched, the Metro police are prepared!

    1984 can’t happen over night. It takes some fucking commitment.

  3. Clearly, arrest rates that low are a sign that expanded powers are needed to protect the public. We know the terrorists are out there, skulking and hating our way of life. The only explanation is that we don’t yet have broad enough powers to find them.

    /Jacqui Smith

  4. So the real question is whether a creating a climate of fear (random searches, brutality, surveillance, spies) is more effective in preventing “terrorism” than working towards a climate of trust?

  5. Devil’s advocate here, but might they just be reclassifying searches they would have done anyway (and called something else)? i.e. The searches would have happened anyway?

  6. Of course terror offences may include taking photos, loitering and other suspcious acts. Surprised there was only 65 arrests. Once heck of a way to live.

  7. No, it’s a success rate of 100%, my friend, because the goal is to innure people to police shakedowns of innocents.

  8. Must make it easy to commit actual crime, what with all the bogus arrests taking up time.

  9. The last sentence in TFA says it all:
    “The Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Metropolitan Police were all unable to say whether anyone had successfully been charged or convicted for terror offences as a direct result of section 44.”

  10. If they keep searching, they are bound to find something. And then the world will be safe forever the end no commas.

  11. Hey! That´s some GREAT SUCCESS! 65 arrested on 170 searches!
    Eh.. d
    Did you say 170 or 170000?

    Oh Shit!

  12. I remember the last time that the rozzers had sweeping powers of stop and search, Toxteh and Brixton went up in smoke.

    The problem with the police force is that they tend to attract police types.

  13. Well, actually these searches are more of a deterrent than a direct way to catch terrorists.
    However, this does make it a lot easier to catch them – the need for secrecy an such makes them much more vulnerable and disorganized.

  14. @16, well, that would be marginally true if there were millions of searches conducted every hour — IOW, if there was any appreciable chance that any individual was likely to be searched. But they searched 170,000 times over 365 days, and there are about 20,000,000 people in the capital area, which means that a terrorist’s risk of being stopped and searched is about 1/2.39500 × 10-5 (basically, 0.000%).

    But they don’t and can’t search everyone — or even 1% of everyone — every day, or the city would grind to a halt.

    So instead, every 3 minutes, some innocent person is harrassed and treated like a crim — and the net effect on terrorism is zero.

  15. I remember seeing figures from soon after the powers were introduced showing that the majority of people stopped and searched were black, because we all know that most Irish republican activists are black.

  16. “Devil’s advocate here, but might they just be reclassifying searches they would have done anyway (and called something else)? i.e. The searches would have happened anyway?”

    Exactly. The point isn’t just that Britain’s anti-terror methods are ineffective. They also serve as a pretext for violations of privacy rights and human rights. There is no way the Met had cause to search 72,000 for terrorism last year. They unlawfully stopped 72,000 for being brown, young or sketchy; they had the anti-terror laws to paper over their misconduct.

  17. Cory – you’re assuming in that little bit of maths that individuals are stopped randomly. We all know that is not the case. The police are stopping people they have a suspicion about.

    So you just have to avoid suspicious behaviour – like taking photographs of transport systems. Not looking like a city banker. Having a beard. Being of a darker hue than an average Anglo-Saxon…

  18. I, for one, am glad that Britain’s diligent police forces are protecting them from these Godless, pocket-wearing potential terrorists.

  19. Does anybody have the breakdown of how many of these stops were carried out by PCSOs rather than proper policemen?

    PCSOs only have stop and search powers under section 44, so to a man who only has a hammer…

    Of course if a huge part of this is PCSOs essentially abusing their s44 powers then Lord Carlile of Berriew should be doing something; though given his stance on extending the period of detention without charge I wouldn’t recommend that anybody holds their breath.

  20. The stop-and-search laws known as the “Suss laws” which contributed to the Brixton and Toxteth riots of 1980-81 were repealed following Lord Scarman’s inquiry, because they contributed to the tension between the police and the communities they were really meant to work with.

    They’re baa-ack… and once again, the police are blithely building resentment.

  21. I think it’s a case of confusing correlation and causation.

    Just because there haven’t been any new terrorist attacks doesn’t mean the police tactics are working and especially because the rate of success for finding anything of “interest” is at 0.00%

  22. For this reason alone do I enjoy sneaking bags of oregano into the coat pockets and glove compartments of my friends.

  23. I’d be interested to know how many of those arrests are actually for substantive violations. How many are old offenses reclassified as “terror?” How many are benign technical violations that are coincidentally covered by terror statutes?

    If they stop me and find I have a photo of the Parliament building on my camera and I get detained over it, does that count towards their statistics?

  24. And there have been no new terrorist attacks in London, which would also be a 100% effective rate. The UK is using Bush logic!

    @machinelf: Excellent question.

  25. “police raided 17 homes in the Birmingham area early this morning, uncovering what they believe to be terrorist ring.”- V for Vendetta

  26. Coppers with wide ranging stop and search powers?

    Now there’s an idea that’s worked well in the past.

    Toxteth and Brixton up in smoke last time the rozzers had these powers.

    The greatest problem with the police forse is that it attracts police types.

  27. You naysayers! This is wonderful! At this rate, the entire UK can be guaranteed to be terrorist free in only 14 short years! That is, assuming that no <14 year olds born in the interim become the world’s youngest terrorists.

    I look to the future with weeping eyes and a happy heart. A future free from terror awaits us!!

  28. “Cuddy had only been a guard for a few days, but already he had absorbed one important and basic fact: it is almost impossible for anyone to be in a street without breaking the law.”

  29. I was a motorbike/cycle courier during the last IRA (and others) bombing campaign in the early 90’s and I remember often seeing (Irish) people in the Kentish Town area and Arabs around Edgeware Road all getting stopped and searched. The cops invariably had an incredible array of armor and weapons. I remember thinking it seemed a bit over the top but I supposed it was necessary. After all, I often had to negotiate gridlock when the bombs went off.

    My point of view was irrevocably changed one afternoon. I had a postcard to send to my Mum. Seeing a postbox at the side of the road I pulled over to pop my card in the box, admittedly a no parking zone. I could not quite reach the slot so I kicked down the stand and stepped round the postbox. As I posted my Mum’s card I saw a WPC officer approach. I smiled at her and said something like, “Sorry about this, been meaning to post this all day”. She pulled my keys out of the bike and said, “You are parked in a no parking zone. Wait, while I write your ticket”.
    “Don’t be ridiculous” I replied, “I’m only parked because you just pulled out my keys” I obviously had the wrong attitude.

    She did not even pull out her ticket book. Looking directly at me with the hint of a smile she spoke briefly into her radio. It sounded like she was calling for backup. Hardly pausing for breath she informed me that she was arresting me under some 80’s terrorism act. As she finished her monologue a white van came careening across the road and eight cops got out I was thrown to the ground just as I had seen the Arabs and Irish ‘terrorists’ have done to them. It all happened frighteningly quickly.

    I was arrested under suspicion of being a terrorist, taken to some cells and locked up for a four hours whilst they dismantled my courier radio (Cheaper than a mobile in the 90’s) in case it was a bomb and ID’d me. Ironically they called my Mum before releasing me, the postcard had been to reassure her that I was getting on OK in the big city in my new job.

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