Very soon British police will be authorized to examine documents and search people arousing suspicion, and right in the street, by the way. The UK Home Office has developed a new instruction about such actions recently.
The instruction itself is not something really new. Before 1993 the British police had enjoyed the right to search people in the streets. Special attention was paid at that to national minorities – Africans and Asiatic nations mostly. Statistics reveals, blacks have been subject to documents examination 5-7 times oftener than whites. African Stephen Lowrens had been killed during such examination in 1993, that entailed a hail of protests in Britain. The police was accused then of jaundice and incompetence. As a result, street examination of documents was suspended.
Britain’s Home Minister David Blunkett considers, recommencement of street examination of documents will reduce the crime rate. Probably, it will work. But the British Home Minister should better to use the experience of his colleagues abroad. For example, the Russian people never leave home without documents, as the police may examine documents any moment. Nevertheless, the crime rate is not reducing in Russia because of it. Examination of documents scarcely helps in solution of crimes. Do you think the situation in Great Britain is different?
However, there is something principally new in the instruction developed by the British Home Ministry. For example, the police will have to give reasons for examination of documents. Moreover, it is going to be a document compiled in a written form. Implementation of the instruction is going to be hard probably, it will add more paper work to the British police.
But law enforcement organizations and national minorities are apprehensive that the police will be more biased against blacks again. The actions of the police can be also understood perfectly well: it is easier to examine documents of one Afro-American than of a crowd of football fans.
The new regulations are not in force yet, and their effect can hardly be predicted. But they have caused a hail of protests already.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Photo from BBC archives
Translated by Maria Gousseva