Random stop and search is price worth paying for a safer Haringey says High Court judge

17:37 18 July 2012

The woman was robbed of her car at knifepoint

The woman was robbed of her car at knifepoint

Archant

Controversial random stop and search powers are a “justifiable price” to pay for safer streets in Haringey’s most violent neighbourhoods, a High Court judge has said.

Lord Justice Moses made the comment as he and Mr Justice Eady rejected accusations police had violated bus pasenger Ann Juliette Roberts’ human rights during a crackdown on gang crime in Tottenham two years ago.

Lawyers for Mrs Roberts, a black woman with an African-Caribbean heritage, argued that stop and search powers were being used disproportionately against black people without any adequate explanation.

Rejecting Mrs Roberts’ claim that her human rights had been violated, the judge said: “To those citizens in the particular wards in Haringey at serious risk of gang violence, the possibility of being subjected to a random search must seem a justifiable price to pay for greater security and protection from indiscriminate use of weapons.”

Lord Justice Moses described how mum-of-one Mrs Roberts, 38, was on a 149 bus in September 2010 when a ticket inspector discovered that there was not enough money on her Oyster card for her fare.

When asked to leave the bus, she lied about having any identification with her and gave a false name and address to the inspector, at which point a police officer became involved.

Just two hours earlier, Supt Christopher Barclay had granted an authority for stop-and-search powers to be used until the following morning as police feared there would be an escalation in violence between two Haringey gangs.

One armed gang was believed to be looking to confront another gang, with some looking to get hold of firearms “to enhance their reputation”.

The judge said the police officer decided to search Mrs Roberts as she appeared to be nervous and kept a tight hold on her bag, “as if she was trying to conceal something”.

But Mrs Roberts, of Upper Edmonton, would not co-operate and resisted the search - eventually being handcuffed and forced to the ground.

Yet in spite of the caution she received being quashed later, Lord Justice Moses ruled there had been no unlawful deprivation of liberty under the European Convention of Human Rights.

He said: “Had the claimant not resisted, the search would probably have been as short as three minutes.”

The judge ruled the police officer “had every justification for conducting the search” in Mrs Roberts’ case, but then upheld random searches in any event.

The judge said it could not be disputed that the power of random search did give rise to a potential for racial discrimination. But requiring officers to have “a reasonable suspicion” that someone was carrying weapons before searches could be conducted would make it “all too easy for those who wished to conceal weapons whilst travelling around the wards of Haringey to escape detection”.

He said: “It is the very random quality of the power that provides an effective deterrent and increases the chance of discovering weapons.”

He added: “There is a stark choice. The alternative to a random search is to impose a requirement of reasonable suspicion. It is not possible to see how that would be effective for the purposes for which the power to give authorisation is conferred.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest Crime news

Friday, February 5, 2016
Nemash Patel photographed the police cordon

Thousands of commuters were evacuated from one of the city’s biggest train stations today, as a suspected World War Two bomb was found on a building site near Victoria.

Friday, February 5, 2016
George Verrier was punched when he tried to calm down a fight. He hit his head on the pavement and later died (Photo: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire

)

Two Metropolitan police officers have been dismissed for gross misconduct after the death of 17-year-old George Villiers who was punched at a party in Bromley.

Thursday, February 4, 2016
They hit him with his own cane (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Police are hunting for two men responsible for a sickening attack the Grahame Park estate in Colindale.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Franklyn Mathurin pleaded guilty to the burglary (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

A man who stole a laptop full of family photographs of a young boy as his father was burying him has been caught and jailed.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
A man was stabbed in Plaistow Park on Friday

A murder inquiry is underway after a man who was knifed in a fight in Newham died in hospital yesterday.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Harjit Singh Dulai was stabbed to death last Wednesday (Photo: Metropolitan Police)

A boy aged just 16 has been charged with the murder of Harjit Singh Dulai, an Uxbridge man who was stabbed to death on Wednesday January 27.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Sony Smart Ultra HD 55'' LED TV

Enjoy the ultimate entertainment experience in your living room with the Sony Smart Ultra 55’’ LED TV. Be the envy of all your friends with this huge TV- you can change your living room into your own cinema! Get the boys around to watch the football or get the girls around to watch the DVD of 50 Shades.. this is a prize that everyone would enjoy! Stand a chance to upgrade your current entertainment system by wining this fantastic prize.

Read more
Surface Pro 4

Technology is ever evolving. We are constantly being shown new technology that is innovative, revolutionary and designed to make life easier for us all. Gone are the days of dial up modems and computers so large you needed half a room to store it. We are in the age of smooth, small and sleek. Companies are all trying their best to create technology that is easy to transport and guaranteed to be user friendly.

Read more

Latest Tech News

Transport