Glasgow & West Scotland

Moves to tackle minority anger over Glasgow Airport stop and search

Kenny MacAskill at Glasgow Airport
Image caption Kenny MacAskill visited Glasgow Airport to see how the police operation works

A new group has been set up to tackle concerns among minority communities over how police use stop and search powers at Glasgow Airport.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the new community engagement group would aim to "build trust".

The move follows public meetings last year over why ethnic minorities were being singled out for security checks.

Mr MacAskill said checks were "necessary" but stressed they must be used "sensitively and appropriately".

Anger over stop and search procedures stems from how police have been using Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

This gives officers powers to stop, search and question travellers at UK airports without reasonable suspicion that the person is engaged in terrorism.

Reasonable suspicion

Ethnic minority communities, particularly Muslim travellers, have raised concerns for several years that they are being targeted and subjected to heavy-handed and humiliating checks.

Mr MacAskill attended public meetings in Glasgow last year, during which the concerns were raised directly with him and Strathclyde Police.

The justice secretary visited the airport on Monday to see how the police operation works and the launch of the new community engagement group.

Mr MacAskill said: "They (police) have been engaging with the local community to share information and I welcome the positive progress they have made working hard to reassure communities and build trust following public meetings about Schedule 7 powers last year.

"Concerns were raised about a lack of clear information about the powers and how they are used, and police have acted swiftly by reviewing the leaflets given to those who are stopped and by making sure information is more widely and easily available, both at the airports and in communities.

"It is important that powers to stop and question travellers must be used consistently, sensitively and appropriately."

Mr MacAskill said "legitimate concerns and grievances" had to be understood and addressed but stressed police had "to balance a duty to tackle crime with the protection of individual civil liberties".

He added: "Officers on the ground are best placed to make individual judgements as to when those powers should be used.

"I believe our forces make a proportionate and necessary use of the powers available to them."

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