Police watchdog 'calls in' anti-terror police complaints

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has confirmed that it will review any complaints or conduct matters that arise from arrests made under anti-terrorist legislation.

The IPCC will tell the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Terrorism and Community Relations today that the decision to "call in" complaints, is in response to issues raised by Muslim communities, concerning anti-terrorist policing. The commission has requested all police forces in England and Wales to refer any such complaints to them.

According to an IPCC survey, black and Asian people are less likely to complain at a police station than white people and would be more worried about police harassment.

The survey also found that awareness of the IPCC was lowest among Asian communities, with only 26% of people being aware of the complaints commission, compared to 63% of white people. The IPCC said that it was taking steps to resolve this, by organising community meetings with regionally based commissioners to raise awareness of the new complaints system. Additional measures are also being considered, including the possibility of allowing people to make contacts with the complaints system through their Mosques.

Chair of the IPCC, Nick Hardwick, said: "The police must give the highest priority to protecting the public from the threat of terrorism. I hope that by calling in these complaints we can provide independent reassurance to Muslim communities that the special powers the police have are being used in an accountable and proper way. However, there is no doubt that the use of these exceptional powers has undermined confidence in the police amongst some Muslim communities."

Mr Hardwick also acknowledged that there had been specific issues raised about the use of stop and search and its connection to countering terrorism and said that the IPCC would continue to monitor this issue.

Mr Hardwick concluded: "It is essential that Muslim communities don't feel unsafe and discriminated against. It is equally essential that the police know that any complaints made will be dealt with impartially and professionally, ensuring that they can continue to police effectively."


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