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Police up to 28 times more likely to stop and search black people – study

Police up to 28 times more likely to stop and search black people – study

Police forces are up to 28 times more likely to use stop-and-search powers against black people than white people and may be breaking the law, new research from the official human rights body reveals.

The research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) looked at police stop powers where officers do not require suspicion of involvement in crime, known as section 60 stops.

The power is used most by the Metropolitan police, which carried out three-quarters of the stops between 2008-11, some 258,000 in total. The next heaviest user was Merseyside with 40,940 stops. Some forces barely use the power.

Eight forces did not provide information to the EHRC or claimed exemption under the Freedom of Information Act; they are Avon and Somerset, Cleveland, Essex, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Sussex, West Yorkshire and Wiltshire.

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Vikram Dodd | The Guardian | 12th June 2012

(US) Judge orders Champaign to turn over electronic messages under Freedom Of Information Act

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A judge in central Illinois says the city of Champaign should turn over electronic messages City Council members sent and received during meetings. The (Champaign) News-Gazette (http://bit.ly/LQzVww ) reports that Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt’s decision Monday supports an earlier decision by the Illinois attorney general’s office based on the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The case involves a News-Gazette request for “all electronic communications, including cellphone text messages” sent during City Council meetings and study sessions over several weeks last year.

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Associated Press | 12th June 2012

In defence of the exemption    

FOI Man suggests that we should view the use of exemptions, and even decisions of the Information Commissioner and Tribunal, in a different light.

It’s a common shorthand in media stories about FOI that use of an exemption by a public authority = public authority secrecy. And of course there have been situations where authorities have been unnecessarily secretive. But I’d like to explain why I think exemptions – and complaints about their application – are often reported unfairly.

There’s the obvious point, of course, that most people recognise that some information must be withheld to enable public services to function – and more importantly to protect the rights of the public they serve. And it’s no surprise that views of what must be withheld will differ between those making requests and those holding the information.

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FOI Man | 12th June 2012

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