Schedule 7 in numbers
88.4% of detentions under schedule 7 are 'non white'
Based on Home Office data released March 2017
500,000 at least have been stopped under schedule 7
Based on published Government data
4,300 devices downloaded in Schedule 7 stops (2015/2016)
According to former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.
99.98% of those stopped were never charged with an offence
Based on Home Office data released March 2017
They too got stopped
No matter their background, fame or achievements, these Muslims all know what it means to be “travelling while Muslim
"Have never been stopped at the airport when travelling with a team in uniform, but travel alone and get stopped for 40 minutes!! Joke"
With its intrusive questioning, long hours of detention and denial of legal representation, as well as its targeting of minorities and Muslims, the Schedule 7 stop amounts to harassment.
Schedule 7 often forms part of a larger web of counter-terrorism measures. CAGE has seen many cases where individuals stopped for no reason under Schedule 7 have also been approached by Mi5 and asked to work for them, or their houses have been raided by police.
For CAGE International Director Muhammad Rabbani, this harassment has been going on since 2004, when he was first stopped at an airport on his way back from holiday in Spain with friends. Thereafter, Mi5 continued to pursue him, stopping him on the way to work.
“My response has always been to them that: ‘I’m happy to talk to you – I’m not averse to talking to you – but what I need you to do is be professional, be courteous. Here’s my business card – you need to book a meeting with me like everybody else does. I don’t like the cloak and dagger business. You can’t just pop up in the middle of the road and start flashing photos at me. I’d rather we sit down, do it properly, calmly.’ So they obviously never took me up on that offer and these interceptions or intrusions would continue over the course of the number of years.”
Rabbani has been stopped over 20 times under Schedule 7 at airports, many times in front of family, colleagues and friends. He has even sought assurances from security services that he will not be stopped again, after 3-4 hours of questioning satisfied them that he is not a risk.
“I ask them that in future when I’m travelling, [they’re] not going to have to make this determination again and again and again. They usually end up just smiling and saying “We can’t give you that.”
"I have been detained, questioned and harassed almost every time I have passed through Heathrow airport. In 10 years, only one of my colleagues has been stopped."
Similar to Rabbani, Channel 4 journalist Jamal Osman, told CAGE’s Schedule7stories.com, how he had been repeatedly approached by security services trying to recruit him. Their psychological tactics, which constitute harassment, include telling him they will take away his British passport, destroy his career and life, should he not co-operate.
Osman has also been repeatedly stopped under Schedule 7 at airports, while travelling on assignments for Channel 4. He has been threatened with detention should he not answer questions and has been insulted, with a security official calling him an “idiot” and a “bad person”, and saying “the world would be a better place without people like you”.
This harassment at airports is not just a British phenomenon. With US President Donald Trump’s ban on Muslims travelling to the US from seven majority Muslim countries, hundreds of Muslims reported similar treatment at airports - a worrying sign that this securitisation arounds ports of entry has common patterns.
"I couldn't believe it. Because of my Somali origin I get detained every time I come through US customs. This time I even got my medals out to show who I am, but they wouldn't have it."
Nisrin Elamin, a Sudanese PhD student who was returning from doing research for her dissertation in Sudan, told press of five-hour delays during which time she was handcuffed and subjected to a traumatic body search.
Similarly, a Somalian woman was detained overnight with her two children, who were born in Kenya but who had US visas. The children did not eat and she was threatened with deportation if she didn’t sign a form. When she refused to sign the form, she was further threatened and handcuffed.
"Returning to the glamour of Luton Airport after our festival win, ironically named British intelligence officers frogmarched me to an unmarked room where they insulted, threatened, and then attacked me."
Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens)
"They took me to the immigration office there. Then I got interviewed by some FBI agents, and that was like the beginning of what I began to realize was a terrible ordeal which I was about to go through,"
Schedule 7 stops result in a negligible number of arrests (0.02% in 2016). Despite this, the terrorism statistics released by the Home Office in April 2016, show that prolonged detentions of up to 6 hours under Schedule 7 powers have increased by 75%.
Shockingly, 88.4% of those detained under Schedule 7 powers are 'non white'. According to the last UK census, minorities constitute only 14% of the population. This extreme disparity suggests racial profiling is systemic at Schedule 7 stops.
There is no breakdown of stops based on religion, even though under questioning individuals are often asked to state their religion and the Home Office has this information. CAGE has repeatedly requested these statistics but the Home Office has not been forthcoming - a sign that the information would be highly embarrassing and indicative of clear discrimination.
Gareth Peirce, human rights lawyer representing Rabbani, says the terrorism law is discriminating against British Muslims “It affects almost every Muslim in ever-increasing numbers who contemplate travelling. It is not just the sheer number of Muslims stopped but that the same people are stopped repeatedly. Once on the system, you are flagged up for life.”
Detaining and questioning an individual when there is no suspicion of them having committed a crime, is an abuse of the rule of law and is extremely counter productive when it comes to building community relations.
The Schedule 7 law must be challenged, especially when it compels individuals to hand over their passcodes. This is a violation of privacy and a threat to the confidentiality agreements that secure clients’ trust. Not only this, but the incessant stops, Mi5 contact and general surveillance that pervades all of this, constitutes harassment, and must end if we are to enjoy a more equal, peaceful and open society.