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Project description

Our research based on case studies highlights the human rights implications of Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 on Muslim communities.

Primary participants

Tufyal Choudhury Associate Professor of Law
Helen Fenwick Professor of Law

About the research

Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows officials at ports and airports to stop, search and examine people in order to determine whether they are involved in the commission, preparation, or instigation of an act of terrorism.

The large discretion given to the decision-maker, the length of time a person can be detained, and the lack of transparency raise important human rights concerns which must be addressed to minimise damaging impact on Muslim communities.

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Our researchers examined the effect of Stop and Search measures in Schedule 7 on Muslim communities based on case studies in 2011.

From the year to June 2013, just 1.2% of examinations under Schedule 7 resulted in a detention according to Home Office statistics. A disproportionate number of those stopped were Muslim males.

We have argued for vital changes to reduce the corrosive impact of Schedule 7 on Muslim Communities.

Equality and Human Rights Commission Report

This research was based on case studies from Birmingham, East London, Glasgow and Leicester. Focus groups were held with local residents including Muslim and non-Muslim participants. Interviews were held with individuals working in civil society and community organisations, as well as practitioners and officials at the local and national level. You can access the report here.

Interviewees felt they were being targeted as Muslims and that the questions they were asked were being used to build up profiles of them and their communities. A combination of questions about religion and the perverse effect this process has on their families is one of the most offensive aspects of operation of Schedule 7. The report found that Schedule 7 has the most negatively impacted Muslim communities. There is little community engagement, and Schedule 7 has had a negative effect on relations between Muslim communities and the police. There continues to be resentment of the police "bubbling under the surface...eroding trust".

Schedule 7 stops at airports are having the single most negative impact on Muslim communities. Without a requirement of reasonable suspicion the disproportionate number of examinations will continue.

Tufyal Choudhury
Stop and Search

Further information

  • Briefing Paper - This EHRC funded briefing presents a flavour of Tufyal and Helen's work. It advances an accessible and engaging version of arguments for reformation of Schedule 7. We aim to disseminate our research to the widest possible audience, including policy makers, legal practitioners, external groups including NGOs, and scholars.
  • Response to Government Consultation - Durham's response to the consultation on Schedule 7 notes the impact on trust and confidence of police in Muslim communities. Along with Gavin Phillipson, Tufyal and Helen argue for vital for changes in Schedule 7 to reduce its negative impact on suspects.
  • Impact of Counter-terrorism on Communities: UK Background Report - The research enumerates that mechanisms of cooperation between the state and Muslim communities have been tempered by the broad definition of terrorism in the Terrorism Act 2000. It assesses the changes in legal powers to stop and search individuals.

Watch Tufyal and Helen highlight their research

Play video 1