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mend STATEMENT ON ‘STOP AND SEARCH’ OF MUSLIM MALE OUTSIDE REGENT’S PARK MOSQUE

mend STATEMENT ON ‘STOP AND SEARCH’ OF MUSLIM MALE OUTSIDE REGENT’S PARK MOSQUE

Categories: Latest News

Sunday July 09 2017

On Friday 7 July 2017 just before Friday prayers at around 1:30pm, Mr. Muhammad Chamoune was stopped and searched by the police on Park Road, London, outside Abbey Lodge near Regent’s Park Mosque.  Footage of the stop and search has been widely distributed via social media and is available to view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkRhZAC2r04.  The tweet has been retweeted over 18,000 times and the Facebook video has over 5 million views.

Police powers to stop and search are governed by the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). The relevant code governing these powers is called Code A, and is available at; https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/384122/PaceCodeAWeb.pdf

The very first principle in PACE Code A is that the powers must be used fairly, responsibly, with respect for people being searched and without unlawful discrimination.  The code outlines that the police must have “reasonable grounds for suspicion” prior to being able to use stop and search powers (PACE Code A 2.2). This suspicion must be on an objective basis (PACE Code A 2.2(ii)) – i.e. “based on facts, information and/or intelligence, which are relevant to the likelihood that the object in question will be found, so that a reasonable person would be entitled to reach the same conclusion based on the same facts and information and/or intelligence”.  PACE Code A 2.2B states that a person’s physical appearance cannot be used to support ‘reasonable suspicion’ unlessthe police have information or intelligence which provides a description of a person suspected of carrying an article for which there is a power to stop and search”.

Judging by the above video, it is unclear what ‘reasonable grounds of suspicion’ may have existed.  It appears as if an extra layer of clothing was the reason for the search and naturally this has caused major concern for Muslims across the UK and for the Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU), run by mend. However we accept that the full facts of the case are not yet available and thus we urge caution in formulating premature judgements regarding the police action in this case.

During the day, the IRU has been in touch with senior officers at the Metropolitan Police who have been highly cooperative and are urgently dealing with the matter.  The Islamophobia Response Unit expects to hear from the Metropolitan Police very shortly on this matter and we will be issuing an updated statement accordingly.

 

Notes for Editors:

  • The Islamophobia Response Unit (IRU) is a project run by mend (Muslim Engagement and Development) – www.mend.org.uk.
  • mend is committed to empowering British Muslims in the fields of media and political engagement
  • mend’s work has been commended by The World Economic Forum, The Office for democratic Institutions and Human Rights and EU Parliament Magazine
  • Queries and further information requests to be sent to IRU@mend.org.uk

 

  • Philip Herlihy

    I’m a member of my Borough’s “Community Monitoring Group” (CMG), is a resident-led panel which meets with senior local police officers to examine the complex issues which surround the use of Stop & Search. I think this statement from MEND is commendably balanced, and I look forward to seeing the Met’s response. Stop & Search is a real headache for police: they are under great pressure to combat certain types of crime (e.g. knife crime) more effectively but it’s clear that some sections of our wider community feel they are unfairly singled out. There is very substantial debate about these issues even within the police.

    In this incident, everyone seems to have behaved faultlessly, in particular the “suspect”, who bore what is undoubtedly an indignity (and it’s happened to me!) with great calm and forbearance. However, we don’t know why he was singled out, and we’re waiting to hear what the police will say led them to stop this gentleman. It’s worth remembering that Stop & Search is a tactic of investigation, rather than an accusation, and typically three-quarters of those stopped and searched turn out to have nothing on them which they shouldn’t have. Police have been working to reduce the number of ‘stops’ where nothing will be found, and the figures show that numbers of stops have declined dramatically in recent years, while the associated arrest rate has climbed – indicating that police are getting better at focusing on the “right” people.

    But we expect “policing by consent” in the UK, and it’s right to ask these questions. Why was he selected for a search? Were those grounds adequate under the guidelines? Do the guidelines need to be further revised?

    I’ve found the whole issue of Stop & Search surprisingly complex, often raising vital questions about the society we live in. If you’re interested in these issues, as I am, I urge you to make enquiries about your own local CMG. I believe every Borough in London has one, though they will vary in composition and frequency of meetings, and forces outside London will have them too. Members of all communities will be welcomed, and given an opportunity to hold their local police to account over their use of this “intrusive tactic”. For people in London, the link below will help you find your local group:

    http://212.62.21.14/Article/Community-Monitoring/1400022510553/1400022510553

  • Andy Lombardi

    Having watched this once or twice I firstly commend Mr Chamoune for remaining calm and quiet during this procedure. Conversely I am very concerned by the behaviour of the lady who, it seems, was the informant who raised concerns as to how many outer garments Mr. Chamoune was wearing. On a couple of occasions it almost seemed like she was a Police Officer, off duty or plain clothed, as her comments seemed very ‘authoritative’. I’m also wondering why, when she realised there was no profit in this encounter, she seemed to scurry away very quickly?

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