In the world of sales, if a sales person were to make one hundred thousand calls and were unable to make even a single sale, that person would undoubtedly be fired. Similarly, if a group of scientists were trying to prove that a certain sort of amoeba existed in a particular environment and searched in one hundred thousand different locations and found no amoeba, it would make sense to conclude that the amoeba was not going to likely be found in that environment.
It perhaps therefore makes sense that if 100,000 people are searched by the police under counter-terror powers and nobody is arrested or charged for terrorism related charges, it may be approaching the fight against terrorism in the wrong way.
More than 100,000 people were stopped and searched by police under counter-terrorism powers last year but none of them were arrested for terrorism-related offences, according to Home Office figures published today.
The statistics show that 504 people out of the 101,248 searches were arrested for any offence – an arrest rate of 0.5%, compared with an average 10% arrest rate for street searches under normal police powers.
If this is the case — that nobody was arrested last year for reasons related to terrorism, why do the searches continue? There are some that would argue that it only takes the one arrest actually related to terrorism to make it worth it. It bears looking a bit further at the history of the searches.
The annual bulletin on the police use of counter-terrorism powers shows that, since the 9/11 attacks, 1,834 people have been arrested in Britain in connection with terrorism-related incidents.
A total of 1,000 of those suspects have been released without charge, 422 charged with terrorism-related offences, 228 with other crimes, and the remaining 184 dealt with by other action such as being transferred to the immigration authorities.
So far, 237 of those charged with terrorism-related offences have been convicted. There are 14 outstanding trials yet to be completed.
It would be nice to think that we have been successful in ending the terrorist threat with no arrests made in Britain last year — but let us not forget that it was only this last May that our own Times Square was host to what could have been a deadly bombing — which could have been successful if not for the brave actions of a Muslim immigrant.
Meanwhile, we will continue to live in a world in which these random searches continue. I remember once being in line behind a gentleman who sadly sighed as he took off his shoes and put them in the TSA offered security tray. He looked at me as I took off my shoes and I quietly said, “Maybe this is how the terrorists really win?” He sighed again and put his laptop in another tray as we pushed forward in the near strip-search.