UK Liberty

Disabled boy, 12, and parents detained under Terrorism Act

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on July 23, 2008

Extraordinary story from the BBC:

A police officer has been transferred from duties at a Channel crossing after a disabled child and his parents were detained under the Terrorism Act.Julie Maynard, of Ware, Hertfordshire, was taking a day trip to Calais through the Channel Tunnel in Folkestone, Kent.

The detective constable accused Ms Maynard and her husband Leslie Coombs of trafficking her son Joshua, 12.

Kent Police apologised and described the incident as inappropriate, unprofessional and lacking in tact.

The family were stopped by the plain clothes officer from the Channel Tunnel Policing Unit on 20 February.

Ms Maynard, a legal advocate, said the officer, who failed to identify who she was, asked for the family’s passports then asked “who’s the boy?”.

“My son is mixed race and the officer then told us, ‘I believe you are child trafficking’,” she said.

When Ms Maynard asked the woman officer if she would be asked the same question if her son was white, she said the officer replied: “Are you accusing me of being a racist?”

The family were then detained under the Terrorism Act

Odd, isn’t it, that people suspected of trafficking children would be detained under a Terrorism Act?

One would have thought it would be more like a Borders Act or Immigration and Nationality Act.

and surrounded by “at least 10 police officers” who ordered them to get out of their car.Ms Maynard was separated from her husband and son, who is autistic and has cerebral palsy, and taken to a detention room for questioning, leaving Joshua distressed.

Ms Maynard said the woman officer told her: “It’s obvious he [Joshua] has nothing to do with you”.

She said officers had told the family they had powers to hold them for up to nine hours under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act, but they were released after more than two hours.

This part of the story seems somewhat mangled as there are no such powers under section 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (or indeed 2006). I think they are referring to Schedules 7 (Port and Border controls) and 8 (Detention).

Mr Coombs said it was an “unpleasant and frightening experience”.

Julie Maynard said: “More and more people are being stopped under the Terrorism Act – there’s absolutely nothing in the act to stop individual officers abusing their powers.

“They have a difficult job to do in a difficult climate but their approach needs to be reasonable and not presumptive that every person is somehow guilty of a possible terrorism or criminal offence.”

Kent Police have paid a “substantial sum” of money to the welfare fund at Joshua’s school, reimbursed the family’s ferry fare and offered Joshua a visit to the Kent police marine launch.

Um no, the taxpayer paid a substantial sum of money to the welfare fund and reimbursed the ferry fare.

Insp Helen Shaw, from Kent Police’s Frontier Operations, apologised to the family in a letter.

In another letter she wrote: “Your complaint and my subsequent enquiries allowed me to identify that her (the officer’s) manner had been insensitive, lacking in tact and that her conduct overall lacked the professionalism I expect.

“I wish to reassure you that your highly unsatisfactory experience was a very isolated incident.”

Let’s hope so, as otherwise we might conclude that the terrorists are in fact winning.


2 Responses

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  1. Matt Baker said, on July 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    How can the police get away with misusing an Act as such – are there no sanctions for this sort of behaviour?

    Do the police know how to use the law or do they just pull ideas out of a hat?

  2. ukliberty said, on July 24, 2008 at 10:37 am

    There has been an update to the story:

    Kent Police said neither the couple nor the boy were placed under arrest or detained under the Terrorism Act.

    But how free were they, or how free did they feel, to continue travelling?

    The force said in a statement: “Our officer spoke to a white couple with a child of mixed race. There were three names on the passport and the officer made inquiries to check the child was leaving the country legally. The parents made a complaint for which we have apologised.”

    The force added that the officer in question no longer works at the Channel crossing and was in another post but the move was not connected to the incident.

    And what about the other officers involved?

    Julie Maynard is a special needs campaigner and lay representative at special educational needs tribunals.

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